Designers are comfortable with new and unique challenges

This is a quote from Henry Dreyfuss’ 1955 book Designing for People; it’s written for industrial designers but applies to design generally (except perhaps for the press operator), and note it was published nearly 60 years ago so please excuse the gendered language:

If he can, the business executive [when selecting a designer] should resist the impulse to make what has become almost an inevitable remark, “Of source, our product is different from any you’ve ever tackled.” This may be true, but an industrial designer’s work, by its very nature, is one of continually approaching and solving new problems. Moreover, the techniques he develops in working out a variety of problems qualify him to come to grips with each one that is “different.”

What the business executive is looking for is a man of vision who is not a visionary, a practical merchant who is something of an artist, a fellow who lives in an ivory tower but has one foot on the ground, a personable diplomat who is equally at home in a high-level conference with the president and in a technical discussion with the operator of an eight-thousand ton press. Curiously enough, that’s just about what he gets.

It’s a great book and Henry Drefuss was one of the leaders of design in that era in the United States during World War II and the economic boom that followed. It’s great to see that ‘design’ was recognised as broader and more useful back then before it was hijacked by visual/graphic design to be all about colours and logos, or at best “look and feel”.

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