A philosophy of design

Design tickles my neurons.
Determining a style or philosophy of my work is tough. I'm not sure one should have a recognizable style - design solutions should be appropriate for the specific problem at hand. If a style can be spotted, then there may be too much of the designer's preference's creeping in, rather than preferences for appropriate elements. My philosophy of design is that it is a way of thinking, a way of making things better, and a way of solving problems in a fresh way. It is efficient solutions that make things better. Design is the tickling feeling that happens in my brain.

I realized I had a design sense and was a designer when I was about 12 years old. Looking back at my body of work, I can spot some commonalities that show up, not consistently, but enough to begin a discussion of a Watson style.

Some of these characteristics include:
• Unique use of materials - spotting possibilities for new uses for everyday items, materials, and products.
• An industrial, contemporary, modern, aluminum, sleek appearance.
• Using angles and overlapping grids, especially in architecture and interior design. Each is appropriately justified within its problem context (street grid angles in NYC, thinking outside of the box in the Design Office, etc.) A grid provides a sense of structure and order but its more dynamic when offset by the unexpected, the twist that makes life interesting.
• Alignments - exploiting the way elements relate to each other with a sense of order, clarity, and efficient organization.
• Minimalism - the brain is busy enough, physical environments, products, graphics can help by being clear, simple, and uncluttered.
• Logic, reason, intelligence - not much of my work is random or without reason.
• Flow and efficiency - I seek to improve and enhance the chaotic world we live in.

A few major influences
• The genius typographer and designer Herb Lubalin.
• The architect, urban planner, and designer Frank Lloyd Wright.
• The Arts & Crafts movement.
• Travel to other countries, cultures, and ideologies.
• Immersion in the inspiration from New York City.
• Early foundation in set design.
• Growing up in Texas in the 1950s.
• Great active high school, college, and work experiences.

To impact my work, I strive to:
• Play the role of the user and see possible solutions through virgin eyes - seeing in a fresh way. To use vista vision to objectively spot strengths and weaknesses.
• See the bigger picture the problem is a part of - see all sides and various ramifications.
• Integrate type and image (as inspired by Herb Lubalin).
• Make things better (and not just in design).
• Speak up when I feel something can be improved.
• Clearly communicate.
• Find rationale for design decisions.
• Solve mind games, puzzles, and word games - to keep my mind sharp.
• Pay attention to detail.
• Conduct research - to become an authority on the problem -get to know the audience and seek what the client really wants/needs, not just what they say they want.
• Think creatively, in new ways, to make connections that weren't there before.
• Improve the professionalism of the industry.
• Courageously take risks.
• Possess integrity and enthusiasm.

Design tickles my neurons - it makes me feel alive, joyous, energized, and enthusiastic about possibilities. I truly believe design is fun.

To read more about Jim Watson's thoughts on design, also read the Design Keys, Design Guidelines, and The Design Process.

www.jamesrobertwatson.com/designphilosophy.html