Designing for the Soul

Brian Gardner

Last week I spent some time up in the mountains of Breckenridge, Colorado. It was a much needed break, mainly from the monotony of everyday life.

While I was there, I was reminded of something that eludes me more than I’d like it to — consumption of the soul. I explained this struggle to my friends in the context of skiing, but I learned in the context of surfing.

There’s a term called “soul surfer”, which is well-defined by Wikipedia:

Soul surfer is a term coined in the 1960s, used to describe a surfer who surfs for the sheer pleasure of surfing. Although they may still enter in competitions, winning is not the soul surfer’s main motive, since they scorn the commercialization of surfing.

The overall concept is that noise and distractions of life are removed, and the simple and innocent enjoyment is the primary purpose of participation. I spent most of my time on the mountain focusing on my sheer love for skiing.

Designing for the Soul

In parallel fashion, I feel the same way towards design. While I’m definitely susceptible from straying from time to time, I try my best to remain in the mindset that I want to be a soul designer.

I want to design for the sheer pleasure of designing.

Like many aspects of life, we have a tendency to allow the noise and distraction into our work, and we end up with canvases that are cluttered. We shouldn’t feel the pressure to include, rather we should be looking for things to exclude.

This is more a reminder to myself than anything. I feel it’s important, at times, to journal out my thoughts in the hopes that they resonate with you.

So I’m issuing a challenge to you this morning to look inward, and see if your design work reflects an overabundance of elements that aren’t necessary.

Design with purpose, not just to design.

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