The more I learn, the more I learn how little I know

BODW 2011 Dieter Rams
December 3rd, 2011

Here I am typing away in a room no bigger than 7 steps by 7 steps. Finances are once again always tight, but last Sunday, I found myself booking a ticket to the BODW forum, a room for 3 nights and a flight from Tiger. The total costs amounted to about SGD1k. It is again with my naive optimism that I assume the school will subsidize it.

It is here that I finally realize what I love doing, what I would want to pursue in my next phase of formal education.

Being in SMU, shuffling between majors from Finance, to marketing to management, one would think I am lost and floating by. But it is here (granted since my internship at startuproots), that I finally know what I enjoy studying and doing.

Funny how it all tied together this week. Let’s rewind a little.

A day before flying off, I dropped by SMU IIE to have a chat with Virginia Cha for my YES! funding application. As usual, she asked me THE question – “what’s your passion?”


What’s my passion?

“I admit, Ms. Cha. I don’t have a passion in a particular subject matter like most youths do. I’m not passionate about music, food or cycling.

But what I know i love doing since young is problem-solving. To be able to solve problems directly, right at the ground level.”

This was the first time I was able to crystalize what I have been and am doing. It felt immensely comforting.


Design as a problem solving tool

Recognising my interest in interaction design, I decided to hop onto the opportunity to learn from speakers such as Dieter Rams, John Maeda and Fritz Frenkler. I wanted to know the purpose of design, the role it plays in our society and businesses.

  • Dieter Rams: The 5 dimensions of design are: functionality, communicative, aesthetics, temporal and ecological.
  • John Maeda: Design is about providing solutions to problems
  • Fritz Frenkler: Design brings order to complexity
  • Hentry Steiner: Design and discipline are synonymous

It was after hearing these talks that I came to finally understand why I’ve always been intrigued by various designs, across different context: first on environmental solutions, next on product design and finally to the merge of web design. It’s not that I’m fickle, it’s not that I’m a blind follower of fads. It’s because design is a logical process in coming up with solutions that is effective, unobtrusive  and intuitive.

The domain, Interaction Design, is one that is universal. It applies to architecture, products and services, communications, new media, environmental, social, urban planning etc etc. It is around us all the time. With every problem we encounter, there is a chance to do something great, to harness the capability of design to help take tangible actions and solve these problems head-on.

With this new insight, I now feel the need to catch up fast in this domain.

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