12 May, 2011

Gathering Intel-Reading Broadly

By Lisa Peck, ASID
One of the things I do that  allows me to have new ways to inform my design is to read...broadly. Fiction, non-fiction, research, magazines and online reading all contribute to who I am a designer. Learning how people think, discovering new worlds. all help me discover new perspectives.
A designer friend recently posted a link to some research from the University of Minnesota on line. The article spoke about the limits of self-control. The research showed that people who were trying to control their frustration, disgust or other negative emotions on a daily basis were less likely to be able to exhibit self-control when faced with difficult situations. It's worth a read, if only to have compassion for other people.
What it got me to thinking about is how as designers we can help alleviate frustration and anger in people's everyday lives. Negotiating your way through your environment can lead to frustration and anger adding to already stressful situations.
A few examples of this that designers can address in our work are:
1) A mom who always need to be on a even keel needs storage for her kids that they can easily access and design that makes in easy to stay organized and allow others in t                   the family to participate in daily chores like cooking.  Design can create a space that helps or hinders the daily life of the family.
2) An office worker needs comfortable seating, a place to rest their eyes away from the computer screen and to have their desk or office situated in close proximity to
co-workers with whom they collaborate the most. Design can reduce this stress in the work place.
3) Having a chaotic environment in a classroom can create behavior issues in the students as research shows. Designers can help create classrooms with appropriate
storage, colors and visual order. A teacher who has less behavior problems in the classroom has less reason to spend all day squelching frustration and anger leading
to less aggressive behavior when he or she is faced with a difficult situation outside the classroom.
By thinking not only about the beauty we bring to the world as designers but about how our work influences behavior and how function of environment can allow people to be more of who they want to be is an inspiring thing to me as a designer.
The designers of LiLu  observe how people interact with their environment and try to solve the problems and frustrations environment and endeavor in our work to solve those problems.

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