When I decided to put together a personal not-really-a-portfolio portfolio website about a year ago, I developed it around a verbalization of what I called my design ethos. This sort of mission statement was not only to capture a more focused idea of what I want my work to be about for myself but also to grant potential clients, employers and collaborators a deeper understanding of my thinking, my values and how I plan to approach design projects in the future. When teaming up I want those core principles fundamentally to be agreed upon.
That’s why I consider sharing this ethos as important as showing off past projects I brought to life in the last decade practising my craft. While my attitude towards style directions and design philosophies shifts, preferences and focus points change and my abilities naturally evolve and expand, the design ethos is meant to outline the very fundamentals to strive for. That being said, it’s meant to be a living document –just like this blog, so there can never be a complete or definite version.
Very recently I’ve quietly and secretly started to work on a new version of the initially mentioned website (lucasrees.com), so this is the most recent take on my design ethos:
I believe design is best approached with a ‘don’t-know-mind’ and in a playful yet meticulous manner. First, we need to learn as much as possible about context and the flow of things, to then develop an individual approach and finally design from inside to outside. The crucial part of the design process is to ask honest questions, listen carefully and be empathetic to the culture we create for. We might be hired by companies and organizations, but we work for those affected by our craft, we are meant to find solutions to their problems. We design for people.
After all, design is not just “what it looks like”, or even “how it works”, ultimately design is about the meaning it produces, it’s about what it enables. Design is a steady search for value. That’s why we should spend our time on meaningful and ethical projects to begin with.
Being a designer first and foremost is being a problem solver, our mission is to identify challenges and develop meaningful solutions which are robust and consistent, yet innovative. Design draws from and feeds back into the world around us, so we have to go through life with our eyes wide open, we need to study everything around us. Good design has to borrow and spin off from multiple places and cultures. Therefore, I am convinced that being a good designer requires a childish sense of wonder, sensitivity and a wide range of interests and perspectives, even –and in particular– beyond the actual field of work.
As designers, we should embrace the unknown and be willing to experiment with strange ideas and bold concepts. We have to be willing to fail, to be wrong, to start over again with lessons learned. We need to acknowledge circumstances as they are, but our work has to be future-positive always pushing beyond boundaries. To design is to shape the future, so we have to be visionaries. Design is a bet on the future.
Good design is intuitive, accessible and empowering. To achieve that, the go-to approach has to be simplicity and clarity, but we can’t shy away from idiosyncratic aesthetics, playful storytelling and even vast beauty, if appropriate, either. Design needs balance, it has to speak to your head and your heart. Form follows feeling, just as form follows function.
I furthermore believe in doing good work without rushing, crafting with intention and that the best ‘stuff’ usually is built by happy people. To be able to deliver holistic and sustainable solutions we need to craft with care, curiosity and passion.
Happiness, as far as I’m concerned, comes from crafting varying ‘things’ consistently well while learning something new along the way as often as possible. Design is a skill supposed to surpass platforms. That’s why I like to collaborate interdisciplinary and do projects that cross-scale in media. Overall, I like to think of myself as not specialised in anything, but specialised in everything.
last revisited on February 27th, 2024