<This is a series about some of the dilemmas facing design and designers>

Design is an instrumental part of how we shape our future (more on this in later posts). It as seen as a glamorous industry to work in, while the reality of it is hidden behind a veil, as with many industries.

Because of the perception of design, it often attracts a certain type of individual. One whose ego plays a role in the decision to pursue design. I have seen students study design because of what the idea of being a designer means to them. This type of designer often wants to be seen to be the one who has created the thing, or who had the idea. It's a path of external validation, rather than internal satisfaction. 

There are numerous issue with this. The first is that being precious with your ideas is not conducive to good design. The second, is that design is rarely a solo act. You have to be able to play nicely with others, and if not nicely, than at least sensitively. The third, is that great design requires empathy. It requires the ability to understand how other people are feeling. If Ego is present, it gets in the way and says 'I know best'.

The biggest problem with ego in design is this: ego creates a focus on the individual. 'This is MY idea'. Their is another way, that can drive better design, and that is a focus on outcome. 'What do I need to understand from others, to solve this problem?'

I know many designers who aren't ego driven. I also know that most of them battle with it in some shape or form. To really embrace design fully, one must be human. Be present to all that is happening. When you are in the present, ego disappears. Great design requires an egoless environment. Great designers, then, are those that can remove or suspend their ego, and be present to the opportunity ahead of them.

AuthorSimon Lawry