Design Management and Writing

Ralf Beuker over at Vol. 2: describes his impressions from the Amsterdam Design Management Institute (DMI) conference (March 29?31). He gave a workshop on “Blogging for Design Leadership: What Corporate PR Can’t Tell!” and was asked how he found the time to fill his blog while doing “real” work as well. He references a post by Eric Karjaluoto over at ideasonideas titled “Designers must write”. Eric thinks writing is an essential part of design, and he finds himself writing all the time:

I believe that my true job description would begin with this phrase, ?Write and respond to email.? That?s what I do all day. I send notes to designers, clients, and suppliers, and then I task manage the fallout from these messages. I send persuasive emails, abrupt emails, congratulatory emails, friendly emails, and so many others. In fact, I?m even composing this blog article in? You guessed it, my email application. Although I may not open Photoshop on a given day, my email application is never inactive.

He thinks for designers not to use their verbal skills is “negligent and wasteful”, as language is power, and design is not only visual:

In my mind, designers fall into one of two categories. The first is a craftsperson. These individuals can utilize the specific tools of their practice with precise skill, and enjoy a very highly specialized knowledge of their craft. I would classify type designers as part of this category. I have the utmost respect for their craft. It is fraught with complex challenges and requires a master?s eye to command.

The next, and in my mind more powerful (by this I do not mean relevant, but rather as one commanding greater influence) category of designer, is one that sees her/his role as a communicator and will go to any length to convey a message or idea.

He closes by comparing writing to pilates for design ? training those skills to keep them alive and increase / improve them while you go.

I think this is a very valid point. As designers we need to be able to express ourselves and our ideas, to convince people of our design rationales, to create enthusiasms for the convications we hold. Verbal expression is an extremely powerful medium, and we need to take every chance we have to use and thereby improve it. It’s not only “a picture is worth a thousand words” ? the same is true vice versa.

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