010: What Makes You a Designer

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There are many things I do during a typical day – designing “stuff” is just one very small portion – but I still consider myself a designer more so than a project architect. Since I work at a smallish firm, everyone wears many hats and nobody has just one task or label. To be considered a designer just means you need to think about the design of everything – and I mean everything. Not everything I do is BIG picture design – compared with the overall time spent, very little of it is – but I consider the creation and coordination of the details of every project integral to the process that yields a successful design.[Note: If you are reading this via email, you will have to click here to access the on-site audio player] How do you define Designer? [0:45 mark]This is a pretty generic definition and fails to recognize allied design professionals.Where does Creativity fit in? [2:00 mark]I started thinking that creativity has more to do with how a person thinks, views, and processes information rather than their ability to draw or paint well. As a result, I think some of the most creative people are scientists – people who don’t generally come to mind when the topic of creativity comes up. But you don’t have to be a genius level intellect to demonstrate creativity. Sometimes it’s about being clever and noticing what’s around you and realizing that you can do something with what you see.If you don't see yourself as a designer when you're doing construction drawings - you're not in the right job. [10:40 mark]"You don't just design buildings, you design details, you design execution ... you design the entire process". There are many skills a designer must demonstrate, but in my opinion, here are the 6 most important:Observation [14:17 mark] If you consider yourself a designer, you make it a point to notice your surroundings. As a characteristic, designers are curious and they take notice and make notes of things others overlook. Communicators [19:44 mark] Designers need to be able to articulate their ideas in a way that builds consensus and fosters an atmosphere of confidence. Integration [26:18 mark] And by this I mean they are able to take their ideas and put them into play. Evaluate [29:18 mark] Designers need to be able to look at their own work critically and keep the good bits and get rid of the parts that don’t work. Context [33:18 mark] Designers are great at understanding context, and context is what enables us to make sense of things and put some sense of order to the task at hand. Context is the bit that allows us to decide if something is relevant ... and determining if something is relevant is crucial when designing because if you design a solution to a problem that isn't relevant in a given context it’s worthless. Forge Their Own Path [37:39 mark] Rather than forming a belief of what a solution can or can’t be, designers tend to look at the process and ask themselves "What if?" and "Why not?" Designers often see rules as guidelines and will work along the edges and as a result generally feel unbound by rules that others follow. We have decided to introduce a new segment to the podcast. We have been ending each episode with a segment meant to humanize us as individuals while taking a few minutes to talk about what we are doing in our spare time - a segment aptly titled "In My Spare Time". However, and after some reflection, since there are times when I don't really seem to have any spare time, I felt like I was forcing the issue and trying to come up with something to talk about (and if you really knew me, you'd know that this is not normally a problem). So after talking with Landon, I decided that in these moments we will cut the IMST segment and add in this new segment that I am going to call "Hypotheticals".If you are not familiar with the concept of a hypothetical, let me take a minute and explain it. I will present an imaginary situation or concept (that will almost always ...

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