5 Lessons We Can All Learn From Designers

We engage with the work of designers in almost everything we do. I’m writing this from my desk with a coffee cup to my right, my favourite hand bag to my left, and my computer screen in front of me – all branded and designed for the user. As you read this there will be design all around you too – an ad on the screen, the texture of the seat you’re sitting on, the look and feel of the shoes you’re wearing.

RELATED: Finding Inspiration for Innovative Business Ideas

Our engagement with the work of designers is often unconscious, but if done well the message gets through. So if design is fundamentally about creativity and communication, there are lessons to be learnt for all of us. Here’s five to get you started:

Be curious and engaged

To communicate effectively requires understanding. Become a keen observer of current events and trends – be curious and dive deeper into the issues so you can provide your own unique perspective.

Understand your creative process

While it’s nice to think that a “big idea” will just come to you one day, the reality is that behind every “eureka” moment is a lot of hard work. Discover how you learn and create best – maybe you need to mull over an idea for a few days until it’s sharpened, or you might draw out ideas through brainstorming with others. Whatever your creative process is; understand it, own it, and don’t be afraid to take hold and run with new ideas when they come to you.

Think beyond the people you know

Talking to new people, asking questions, being interested and curious about what they have to say, are all part of the recipe for successful communication. Try starting a conversation with someone you haven’t spoken to before, they may offer you a new perspective that leads you to a new idea. Understanding the way different people tick will help you reach new and existing audiences.

Be confident and open to new ideas

Everyone has unique skills to offer, you might not be a designer but what is it that you have to offer that is different to those around you? Don’t be afraid to own the skills you have and the work that you create. However, embracing critique is important too –we are always learning.

Collaboration leads to innovation

The flip side of having unique skills to offer are the things you can’t do so well. Recognise what these are and reach out to those who will compliment your skills. Collaborating with others will help push ideas further, leading to better results.

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By Dr Nicki Wragg, program director of design at Swinburne Online and senior lecturer of the design honours program at Swinburne University. She graduated in 1989 and worked in the areas of brand identity and publication design. Nicki completed her doctorate in 2012.

February 12, 2015

On Ya Bike: 5 Minutes With LEKKER’s Meindert Wolfraad

Meindert Wolfraad moved from Holland to Australia in 2008, travelled for four months, then grabbed some Dutch bikes and took them up and down the east coast to try and sell them, alongside the Dutch way of life where you cycle everywhere. He changed the bikes to adapt to the customer and soon he started LEKKER with one type of bike before it grew to the size it is now. He’s still a one-man band, despite views to expand to Europe and America this year. We spent 5 minutes getting to know what makes him tick and where this quirky business idea came from…

How do you come up with the idea for your business?

I was riding a Dutch bike when I arrived in Australia to study English at the University of NSW and was surprised no one else was riding these European-style bikes here. It was more casual than the BMX-type bikes I saw the Aussie uni students riding around (if at all, most caught the bus) and I saw an opportunity to bring the Dutch riding culture to Australia. It’s different, seated upright, casual and a way of transport rather than an activity, which is how Australian’s seemed to see bike riding.

Why is cycling such a great way to travel?

Oh, the list is so long! It’s healthier for you, it’s great for the environment, you can travel whenever you want – no need to wait for a bus or sit in traffic in a car, it’s more affordable because you don’t need to pay for fuel or even maintenance (and when you do need a quick bike fix, it’s cheaper. But most of all, I love the freedom. Cycling makes you happy – you have the sun on your face, the wind in your hair and you get endorphins from doing a bit of exercise. What’s not to love?

What is the best cycling trip you’ve ever done?

LEKKER Bikes are designed in the European style so that you use them for daily use. They’re meant for every day rather than long trips, and that’s the way I like to travel. However, if I had to say one trip, it would be one I did with school when I was around 13 years old. In Amsterdam we do something where we cycle for 40 kilometres with a group of 25 people – your school mates, teachers, friends – and you’re singing and screaming and yelling and just having a really fun time riding your bike; it’s the coolest. That was from Lochem to Deventer in the Netherlands.

What’s next for LEKKER?

We’re working with LOOP Cycles at Burning Man from August 25 in Nevada to hire out glow-in-the-dark bikes that are then going to be taken to Africa for use as transport for students and medical staff. LEKKER is just now opening their first store in Amsterdam and we’re so excited. It’s a bit of a boomerang – the bikes from Down Under going back to Europe with their European style of riding. Every big city in Europe having a retailer for LEKKER Bikes is our goal for the rest of the year, and the same goes for the US, where the first bikes arrive next month.

We’ve also got LEKKER Boats in Australia, which are suitable for 15 passengers and go around the Sydney harbour collecting people and giving them a fun day out on the water, as we do in the Amsterdam canals, for example.

July 25, 2014