Why designers have to care
I have a confession.
They’re threadbare, crime-scene splattered with Behr Champagne Grape in eggshell, and the sole is peeling away from the quarter and vamp, but I can’t throw them away. Even after buying another pair to replace them.
I’ve travelled 10 countries with them, climbed literal and figurative mountains in them, labored 12-hour days through hundred-degree heat with them. Forged some of my most vivid and enduring memories in them. And before I ever bought them, I was drawn to them. Pulled into orbit like a moon around a planet or a bee around a honeysuckle. It might seem extreme, but I formed an emotional connection with them. The vibrant crimson canvas pulled tight with clean white cotton laces that switchback between eyelets like alpine skiers racing to the finish. Full of momentum. Ready for both spontaneous and well-planned adventures ahead.
I’m not one to flippantly throw out the “L” word. There are a lot of awesomes and amazings and incredibles in my vocabulary—which I really am working on—but when I say I love those shoes, I mean it. Soul to sole, deep-gut pain when the fabric splits, actually offended when someone insults them kind of love them. And it’s telling. When we create things or spaces or places that people are gravitationally pulled to, that people return to again and again to do life in and maybe even fall in love with, we have made something that matters. Something that will endure the test of time and place and culture, no matter how beat up or worn down it gets. Something that will make the world sun-shinier and grass-greener and so much easier to steward. Because we won’t be tearing up and throwing out what’s no longer relevant or trendy or good.
Be inspired. But be reverent. As designers of course, but even more so as humans, we are responsible for every love-deserving and every careless thing we bring into being. When we slack off our responsibility or our motives are tainted and we just try to deliver without really thinking or caring, we have failed. I want to say this now before I get too knee-deep and become callous to the call of career: there is no amount of money or pride or deadline too tight to excuse bringing something into being that isn’t love-worthy. So let that be our ultimate endeavor.