Met a couple of very interesting folk the last few days. Both very different, hugely different backgrounds but crucial things in common:
One is an old friend, the other I worked with briefly (I'll keep them anonymous)...
One trained in ergonomics and product design at Loughborough, the other studied English at University. The product designer spent nearly 10 years in transportation and ergonomics, then started up a design consultancy in Singapore. The English grad went in to the music business, organising band nights and managing acts.
The product designer then spent a while in branding with Wolff Olins. He was in his time, also a very serious racing cyclist.
The English grad then went back to study at Central St. Martins and became a very accomplished animator (which is how I met her). She also discovered that she loves standing up in front of large groups of people, teaching and leading workshops.
So what ties these brief stories together? Both have expressed to me that they no longer feel challenged, that there must be something else to give in their creative lives. Both have user-centred leanings (one as trained ergonomist, the other discovering user research). Both are intrigued about my recent career path from IDEO, through Sense Worldwide to Engine.
Both have also articulated (like myself) that we feel like the proverbial 'square peg in a round hole' and that the established design community is struggling to provide adequately for them. Recruitment consultants on the whole don't know how to deal with these non-conformists.
So why is this interesting?
Because we need more people like this. People like this are the future. Tim Brown calls them 'T-shaped people' Whatever shape they are - for me, they're the right profile.
They're not 'Jack of all trades, master of none' but neither are they the sort of precious creatives who only design for themselves.
Props to Jeff Howard for this piece by Richard Seymour (ex Seymour Powell) from InterSections 07 'Richard Seymour: Leviathan. The rise of the Polymath'.
"Reflecting on his discipline-busting career, Richard believes that designers need to adopt a wide-spectrum approach to the future, encouraging them to broaden their bandwidths. In a lightning tour covering Leviathan, lasagne and Dan Dare he argues that we now have a unique opportunity to reinvent our future and that designers need to start focusing on the real problems that matter..."
It's a super challenging but also super rewarding world out there... I wish us all the very best of luck.