Setting the Table

Months after working through a refresh of this site, and deciding during that process to include a blog (and give it a coveted place in the site’s header), here is an obligatory first post.

So first up: why bother? The web has (largely, sadly) shifted to social media, and blogging on one’s personal site appears a little antiquated compared with that large grey area of ‘promotional’ blogging on Medium and LinkedIn. But here we are, in a location that feels far more appropriately personal (to me, anyway), surrounded by the other odds and ends of my work. It’s that personal aspect that prompted me to create this space, a space for freely exploring ideas without necessarily expounding or condemning them.

As a designer my work is—more than anything else—about exploring a space of possibilities, of varied configurations and tones, and I’ve slowly come to engage the world itself in a similar way. And in this shift, I’ve found it quite valuable and enjoyable to read the (shamelessly personal) writings of other designers; Kenya Hara and Frank Chimero are two that quickly come to mind. Beyond design, a few years ago I compiled a book of my grandfather’s short articles (written and published over the course of 20 years), and this year I’ve been reading Essays in Idleness (Tsurezuregusa), a lovely collection of fragmentary musings by the twelfth century Buddhist monk Kenko. The interesting balance of breadth and brevity that collections of short and/or fragmentary writing allows for is quite appealing to me, and my hope is that by engaging in this sort of writing I will be able to record fleeting thoughts and leave readers with things worth pondering.

Next: what will all this be about, exactly? My hope is ‘design philosophy’, broadly conceived, with the occasional post on other topics. The vast majority of my reading and thinking revolves around concerns that underpin a thoughtful design practice: how different designs (different configurations of built materials) result in different experiences for their users and inhabitants, how culture is shaped by objects and goes on to shape them, and how technology interacts with culture and impacts design practice and the production of objects. All of these concerns speak back to ‘human-centered design’, which should always be taken as a prerequisite for ‘good design’. They also pushed my academic foray into the emerging field of Embodied Cognition (the claim that cognition is grounded in bodily interactions with the world), an area that has become an important epistemological foundation for my work and writing. So that’ll always be in the background here, and sometimes the foreground too.

Finally: I hope whatever ends up on this blog leaves you feeling as curious and excited about all this stuff as I am!