Monday, November 23, 2009

Mathieu Lehanneur's science based designs

Mathieu Lehanneur's talk for TED highlights some really fundamental principles of design. Is it colour theory? Typography? Is it perhaps the socio-economic impact of design?


It's even more fundamental than that. It's about being human.

At a martial arts seminar once I heard a Systema guru speaking about styles and how to effectively make the techniques work. "Do you think this move is more like the crane style of kung fu or tiger style?" (referring to the idea that fighting systems have evolved after emulating certain animals in their habitat). The head honcho snorted and said, "Humans shouldn't need to imitate animals they should concentrate on being human".

In a similar way Lehanneur states in his opening part of this lecture how important science is to him: the science of being human because therein lies the answer to design solutions. He says,

"Science helps us understand how we see, how we hear, how we breathe, how our brain can inform or mislead us.
It's a great tool for me to understand what could be our real needs.
Marketing people have never been able to do that.
Marketing reduces things. Marketing simplifies.
Marketing creates user groups.

Scientists admit complexity, admits fluctuation and uniqueness."

Understanding how we perceive and interact with our world is essential for designing products or communications. What I find intriguing about his approach is that he looks at the real essence of the problem. Often designers talk about solving problems but really just create a make-over or 'paint it up' to look pretty (and in fairness often clients want this as a solution rather than any deep searching study into what is really needed!). This guy at least looks at the very heart of the problem and works in deep thought into the solution. Designing isn't about drawing pretty pictures it's about solving problems. Drawing helps us communicate ideas. Problem solution is about thinking. It's about seeing how we are as humans.

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