This article I’m going to split this into two parts. First part will be a bit of personal reflection and the second will be me explaining why I think travelling can help you as a designer. (With some panorama pictures in-between)
Part 1; Personal reflection
I’m currently sat in a departure lounge in Vienna looking back on the last few days. It’s lead me to feel a bit ambivalent. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy myself, it’s completely the opposite!
I’ve seen amazing sites, met some wonderful people (I had to explain what being part of a Behavioural Design team is about a million times) and I ate possibly one of the best burgers I’ve ever had, OMNOM!.
So a big ‘Thank you!’ to Bix and Christoph for sharing their fantastic city with me! You guys are the best.
Why does this make you feel ambivalent, Matt?
I’m not sure I can explain it, but I’ll certainly give it a go.
I was brought up in Germany (near Dusseldorf) in the earlier part of my life. To be honest I don’t remember the fine details of my time there. Nonetheless whenever I’m in a European city, I feel a sense of familiarity that the UK doesn’t give me.
Each time I visited a new place this past year (Stavanger, Oslo, Namur, and now Vienna) I felt like I connected with it. The experience made me want to move there and start another chapter in this life of mine. Every time these fantasies lead me to wonder “what if only I just jacked in everything I have in the UK and just left for a new adventure?”. A lesson I’ve learnt from Tobias Van Schneider.
Do I hold my breath and jump into one of these cities that I’ve connected with. Or stay and keep building experiences in the UK?
Did that explain it? No? oh well, I tried.
About these panorama shots
I thought I’d share these panoramas with you. As well as being a useful framing device, they illustrate the point I’m about to make when it comes to design. Each is different. Each panorama telling a different story, having it’s own character and style.
They tell the story of my past year. Maybe you’ve been to and would like to visit again? Perhaps you’ve never been and would like to?
Great, I‘ll go with you! When do we leave?
Part 2; The travelling designer
Can travelling help you as a designer?
Yes. 100%. I cannot get enough of travelling. As a designer I believe it is something you must do.
As I was explaining to people what it is I do and how I do it, one word I used every time was ‘empathy’. I described what I do as ‘enabling interfaces to empathise with the person using it.’
Keep in mind; this is a high level observation and is for all designers, no matter what product you produce.
I would challenge anyone that thinks that they could design for people without meeting them. Travelling can give you new insight, new inspirations on how to approach design problems you are faced with.
It’s not just the people sat next to you that will be using the thing you design. please, I implore you, go out, see new things, meet new people.
As an introvert this has definitely been a challenge for me. I know it can be difficult, I’ve been lucky enough to have friends that show me the way around these places. But even so I challenge you to travel and find yourself a new perspective!
My work has definitely improved since I’ve started to travel more.
If you create something for yourself, you are an Artist. Not a designer. Design is for other people. If you have never met these people, how can you design for them?
I wasn’t sure of how to finish this piece. I’m still not. Maybe I’ll edit it and expand the article as time goes by and I reflect on things more.
Maybe you can relate to this feeling of ambivalence I feel? Maybe you think I’m just droning on? I hope I at least provoked some level of thought, whichever it is.
Go! Visit a some place new! Don’t stand still.
Etch’s resident Welshman and Maker Of Things. Matt is part of Etch UK’s Behavioural Design Team integrating aspects of psychology into design and human interaction projects.
He graduated with an honours the University of South Wales. He subsequently went on to gain a Masters Degree in Design for Digital Media from Portsmouth University’s School for Art and Design.
Some people he’s worked with: BBC, Pearsons, RSPCA, Transport for London, Maritime & Coastguard Agency.