How to become a designer?


This is a question I often get asked, usually by super-inquisitive 10-year-olds, who haven’t realised that they most likely already are designers, and simply need the world to take note. Nonetheless, whether you are or not, this is the time to start! Below is my 5-minute advice for becoming a designer:

  1. Take time to fall in love with your art, master tools, techniques, materials – anything that can help you communicate your ideas to others. This can be prototyping something in LEGO bricks, cutting, gluing, drawing, painting, trying your hand at Sketchup creating 3D models of objects or just making them out of plaster or clay. Make magazine and instructables are a great source of ideas of how to make stuff!
  2. Read and be inspired broadly and deeply – about how things work, how people think, how cultures came about, be curious and generally ask ‘why’ about mostly everything and take time to look for the answer, and when you think you found it, ask why again.
  3. Dream and think ‘what if’? Combine the unlikeliest extremes, or just what seems fun and outrageous and become comfortable at thinking it through – the good bits, the bad bits and how you make something better. Try to make your ideas into a piece of music, a story, a movie, a picture.. learn to turn your dreams into something others can be inspired by.
  4. Seek the company of people who energise you, avoid the company of those who don’t. Life’s too short for people who tell you things can’t be done – we achieve what we believe we are capable of so find people who build you up, and be that someone for someone else.
  5. Find a project! Go to design school, do stuff – the more things you try to master, the richer the ideas. Maths is good for working out engineering stuff (how things work and how to build things), English is good for explaining why your idea is important, business skills are good for working out if your idea will help you retire to a desert island as a rich millionaire one day or not and so on.. most things in school seem dull and boring, but they can all help you work out better ideas – like the kid who came up with a better way to place solar panels based on the Fibonacci sequence, paying attention in biology class and walking in a forest.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Pete C says:

    Great advice, CW!

  2. Cecilia says:

    Hey Pete! (This guy is still my favourite designer of all time – we used to be cooped up in the design studio fretting about making LEGO bricks with posable joints so we could build Knights or Exoforce robots).. Thanks for the comment! How’s life? the world?

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