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The 12 Most Important People in Design Right Now

This article is by Will Schmidt in San Diego Magazine and is originally posted here.

The 12 Most Important People in Design Right Now in San Diego

Thinking about how humans use things and interact with their environment, whether it’s walking through a door, taking a sip of coffee, or checking their insulin level, is a special talent. Similar to people who have an ear for music or languages. Designers and design thinkers see the world differently, and can often be the difference between a good everyday experience and a bad one. What follows is a list of who we think is important and exciting in design, right now. We asked them each to define what design means to them.


Chad Q. Martin

Senior Designer at HP / Head of UX Speakeasy

It’s not that I want to be a designer. I have to be. I don’t think I could do anything else. It’s the way I frame the world. Design is how I pull the future closer. Sometimes being a designer drives me crazy, but mostly it’s the one thing that keeps me sane.

From an early age I was an artist who wanted to create beautiful things. But over time I didn’t want to just express myself, I wanted to make sense of the world outside of me on a more practical level. I was seeking clarity, and design was my path to clarity.

When I began using design to search for clarity rather than beauty, oddly enough I found both. I aimed for substance, and style was a natural consequence.

That pairing—deeply rooted clarity and beauty—can lead to the creation of something that has never been seen before, but is obvious in retrospect. It’s that “Aha!” moment that is the most satisfying thing in the world, and makes the biggest difference in the world.

As a designer, approaching a massively complex problem can feel overwhelming, like looking up at the Milky Way and seeing an infinite field of lights in the sky.
But designers are driven to overlay meaning into the madness. We look for constellations in that chaos—patterns in a sea of possibilities. We strive to find the order and sense hidden by complexity.

I look at what’s there, I envision something better, and then work alongside other creative, smart people to get as close to that vision as possible. Usually, in the process of going after that vision, you gain insights, learn from your mistakes and, if you’re lucky, you orchestrate something great, even if it’s not exactly what you set out to make.

Everything is designed, but few things are designed well. It takes effort to make anything. It takes more effort to make it functional and even more to make it useful. But the North Star is to craft something that goes so far beyond expectation, it takes on the highest form anyone can imagine. That is design.

Currently working on: As the leader of the largest UX (user experience design) Meetup group in San Diego, I’m helping build a vibrant design community marked by camaraderie.

Read the rest of the article here.

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