When i was working in spain with Base Madrid my mentor David Cano offered to refer me for another freelance gig with a friend of his. It was mobile design for a telecom.
I told him I had never done that before and he said, “Design is design.” If you can design large-scale (we had been working on a wayfinding system for a large building), you can design small-scale for a screen. The skills you develop as a graphic designer will serve you no matter what field of design you are working in.
Here I am a little more than two years later and I’m designing mobile screens for every project. I would like my independent project, Storywalls, to be compatible with all future technologies, especially wearables. If not Google glass then whatever is next.
Designing across multiple disciplines reminds me of an incredible branding project for Russ & Daughters I discovered today via Dribbble. Graphic designer Kelli Anderson was tasked with rebranding everything for the company from the menu placemats to interior elements to neon outdoor signage. Her entertaining blog post details all of the thinking and process behind her design decisions, and she expresses the excitement when asked to tackle an area of design that she had never tried before.
Kelli did her homework on the history of Russ & Daughters and delved deep into the old New York roots of their visual identity. She created a strong creative direction, which carried over into the various design forms, which she describes as, “pleasingly rythmic disorder”… and “playful, but mostly direct, straightforward and pragmatic.” The discovery of an original paper bag design from the restaurant provided a strong base to guide design for everything from wallpaper to postcards.
In Design of Everyday Things, Don Norman writes, “How can one person work across so many different domains? Because the fundamental principles of designing for people are the same across all domains. People are the same, and so the design principles are the same.” If you have a deep understanding of the task at hand and the people who will be in contact with the work, thoughtful design is possible no matter what the function will be.
One more gem of design advice that my mentor in Spain left me with is from John Morgan’s Vow of Chastity: Design nothing that is not worth reading. Adhere to the rules below and you’ll be in good shape in any area of design.