• Ashwini Muralikumar

The Holistic triangle of Design

Women & Design // WID Insights

Everything is connected, everyone is connected. Our paths and beliefs may be different but, the end result that we contribute to, is all the same.


The biggest misconception the human race has is the idea of separation. We think things function better with one defined purpose and nothing else. Or the notion that every individual is on their own path and what they do, doesn’t affect the rest of us. Every flawlessly functioning system would show you otherwise. What are these systems? The oceans, the rainforests, an anthill, and many more. The largest of all of these systems, the earth — Is a collection of these wonderfully connected smaller systems that are functioning inter-dependently. Everything is connected, everyone is connected. Our paths and beliefs may be different but, the end result that we contribute to, is all the same.


It is easy and convenient to take yourself out of a narrative that you think you didn’t create. But the fact of the matter is that we are all responsible for the reality we live in. We had a role to play in it. Whether it’s a small or a big role is debatable but, that isn’t going to help us solve anything. What do we collectively need to solve? I don’t need to list them out, I’m sure you have at least 10 big ones staring at you in the face. What I’m here to suggest is the first step. I may be wrong or you might have different ideas but, this approach has worked for me. It’s worth a shot.


The Foreground or The Background


What kind of products are you creating? When a new project is introduced to you, are you thinking about the process or the end result? What kind of experiences are you creating, something that lasts or something that’s momentary? I think a lot about the kind of work I do and the work I want to do. Thinking about anything that comes my way helps me determine what I don’t want to do. For example, I don’t want to fuel mindless consumerism and I don’t want to make objects that fade into the background of people’s lives. We all talk about meaningful experiences! If you ask me, that’s all anyone talked about in design school. It’s surprising to see how much of that translates into the workspace.



I’m not by any means saying that there isn’t any meaningful work that’s being done but, how much of that work ends up in the foreground of your life? When was the last time you remember enjoying something so much that you carried that feeling with you throughout the day? If I asked you what your favorite product was, could you name just one? We are surrounded by objects, most of which we can’t even remember. Is it better to have a few things and enjoy them or is it better to have many and not care?


‘Layered’ Value


The wonderful thing about objects in natural systems is that even though they serve a specific purpose by design, they also play a part in the bigger picture — Supporting life and its functions. There isn’t one single natural creation that unnecessarily disrupts life’s processes. In contrast, there are millions of human creations that do not allow life to flourish. Is human life flourishing? No. Is it getting convenient (for certain kinds of people)? Yes. When you create experiences do you think about what happens to the product in 5 years? How about 15 years? When does it meet its end and how does it recycle itself back into the system? We will all do better and create mindfully if these conversations happened in the early stages of our education. I believe that life can benefit from ‘the value beyond purpose’!



Sensitivity


No system ever benefited from exclusion. To exclude is foolishness. What we need to understand is that whatever the substance may be, it adds value to the process. As individuals, we are exposed to a lot of beliefs and by experience, we form our own belief systems. What we don’t realize is that our belief systems, more often than not, become barriers to our growth and by extension, the growth of the world. We see the world through the lens of good and bad. Who’s deciding what’s good and what’s bad? I have observed that good things may sometimes have bad outcomes and bad things, good outcomes. Is it fair to label anything then? Here’s another way to look at it, If you find yourself with a belief about something, question it. Does it benefit life and life’s processes? If yes, hold on to it. If not, let it go. This sensitivity to life is what will make systems flourish!

We all live in systems. Some of us, in multiple. Some are great and some are dysfunctional. Have we discovered the root cause? This approach to creativity has helped me a lot. I’m hoping it helps you too. Let me know what you think!





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With 🧡 Team WID.



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