Passionate About Design; Dispassionate About Your Design

Jared Spool

September 26th, 2012

Recently, we’ve interviewed dozens of design managers about what separates out their best designers from the rest. One of the consistent answers we’ve gotten is “The best designers are passionate about design, yet dispassionate about their own designs.” The managers tell us they look for folks who get very excited and curious about creating great designs, but can easily walk away from their own ideas and work when it makes sense to do so.

This is an interesting dichotomy. It describes someone who deeply cares about producing the right thing and wants to learn everything they can about what that means. At the same time, it describes someone who can generate a lot of ideas without falling so much in love with any single one that they can’t drop it.

The design process uses iterations to discover new constraints and learn about the problem space. If a designer falls in love with a specific design too early, they can’t adapt to the evolutionary nature of that design process, getting stuck selling something that can’t possibly work.

Yet, that same designer has to show an unending curiosity for investigating the design’s problem space. They have to be relentless in how they approach the design problem, but be ready to walk away from any ideas they’ve generated.

Design is a team sport and the managers say the individuals who can do this are better team members. They work together to find a synergy in what everyone is bring to the table. They don’t sit with an attitude of “I know best what we need” and stubbornly refuse to budge from it.

Where do you put your passions? Are they in learning and exploring design? Do you get too tied to the work you’ve produced and the ideas you’ve though of?

2 Responses to “Passionate About Design; Dispassionate About Your Design”

  1. Amy Marquez Says:

    I learned very early in my design career that what I design is not my “baby.” A designer has to be able to be objectively detached from their designs or they will fail as a career designer. They’ll be perceived to be a diva designer and that reputation will undermine their position in a project team. Designers who learn early that the product or service you’re designing for is, in fact, the product owner or sponsor’s “baby” will be much more successful in their career.

  2. James Klein Says:

    As a professional designer I often walk a tight rope between my design and the needs of my client. It is important not to have an ego about your work because there is too much talent out there to think or assume that you are better, no matter how good you may think you are. Design is very subjective and having a style or aesthetic philosophy helps you show potential clients that you have technical skills. The difference is often made in your rapport with the client. Listening is the single most important tool for any professional in a service related industry. It is tricky to satisfy your client’s understanding of design without sacrificing your own artistic integrity. The trick is to find common ground, make suggestions and understand that if your ideas are rejected, it’s not personal. At Pixel Vector Design we often walk away from several projects a week and change direction 10 times a week. Why? Because we understand that getting it right is the job!

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