Get Over Yourselves, Designers

A few months ago my friend RJ told me that I should check follow Jennifer Daniel on Twitter. Since then, I've enjoyed her work in the New York Times and Medium, and have developed a great appreciation for her clever and un-serious online presence. Today I happened to find her Creative Mornings SF video for the series on Shock, and it was one of the most refreshing and thought provoking talks on design I have heard in a while. I found it at the perfect time-- I've been doing a lot of navel gazing lately and it really helped me pull my head out of my ass. 

I have collected a few of my favorite quotes and included the full video at the bottom of this post. For anyone practicing or interested in the field of design, I highly recommend making time to watch it.  

On the misplaced elevation of design:  

Design it is not a philosophy, it is not a revolution, it is not a cause. Design is neutral.”

”Design is capitalism”

”We can’t pat ourselves on the back because we listen to NPR and we carry and make canvas tote bags. Design feels like a very precise cover for liberal white guilt.

On the mantra "Design can change the world": 

Design disruptors seem to think anything that helps you bypass institutions like the government or regulations is by default empowering or liberating.... but when you only channel it through your iPhone you are giving yourself a pass without actually having to do any hard work.”

”These people need help, not Apple watches. I like the idea of changing the world, but I really just want to see designers change San Francisco.

More on San Francisco: 

It’s advertised as this fantasy wonderland, and you will find that utopia, but you will also find a level of desperation that is outrageous for a city that is supposed to be modern and liberal.”

”We just can’t assume that technology will fix all of this country’s problems. These are real problems created by an extreme gap in wealth.... it is not technology or design that has created this problem, but they haven’t really made it that much better despite all this propaganda to change and disrupt the world. So I’m not anti-tech, I’m not anti-innovation, not anti-money. I like money. I’m just anti-assholes, anti-bravado, anti- that disposition that you are more important than someone else.


On how designers can come to peace with their role in the world: 

If there is anything you take away from this, you can’t take yourself too seriously”

”Your job will not save you.”

”Just let design be design ... it doesn’t have to be about consumption so don’t confuse selling or buying shit with creative expression, just reckon design with your own values.”

”How long should you work and how hard do you have to work before you accept that you are doing the right thing? I don’t know. But the first step is getting over yourself, try and be a good citizen, be a good helper, just do the basic things. and in that way, you are in the service of a good message.

And the full video....