I’ll be the first to put my hand up and say that we often design focusing only on the immediate problem that we’re tasked to solve. We’re given a brief and we design a digital output based on that brief. Even following a user centred design process we’re really only interested in how to help people get the best out of the thing being designed.
There’s nothing wrong with that at all, but a little while ago I came across this article on the Phaidon site that shifted my thinking.
It describes how architects designing a new skyscraper in New York wanted to create a feature that illuminates the High Line. If you’ve been to New York in the last few years it’s likely that you’ve been to the High Line and seen how much of a special and social place it is. If you’re not familiar with the High Line it’s worth reading up on it – http://www.thehighline.org/about/park-information – I think it’s one of the most imaginative pieces of urban planning in recent years.
But here’s the thing. The skyscraper has nothing to do with the High Line. The people using the building don’t need the skyscraper to illuminate the High Line. But the architects have decided that they can create a feature that compliments the experience of an attraction nearby rather than sitting in isolation.
Remember our typical focus when working on projects… When was the last time you thought about how the experience you’re creating is in some way complementing and enhancing the experience of something nearby? And have you ever thought about how your the product you’re working on can enhance the digital landscape as a whole?
Image © Studio Gang http://studiogang.net/work/2010/solarcarve