“There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.” - great advice by Milton Glaser.
That desirable “wow” factor is what designers need to help them stand out in today's competitive design industry. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to nail it.
Becoming a great designer requires far more than attention to detail, creative thinking or typography skills, you should also build the habit of continuous learning to avoid getting locked in your own head. The broader view of the design world you have, the more you will understand what your audience wants to see.
We’ve curated 10 TED talks for professional and amateur designers to help you learn from real life experiences, find happiness in work, and grasp innovative ideas that are most likely to open your mind to new horizons.
If you want to stay productive, take a moment and learn something from the experts. Grab your favorite beverage, sit back and listen to the following 10 TED Talks for Designers:
My Life in Typefaces
What is the connection between technology and type design? Matthew Carter, the man behind some of the most famous typefaces including Verdana, Georgia and Bell Centennial answers this question in this TED talk for designers. Matthew gives us a glimpse of his career from when he started designing typefaces for print purposes without any technological influence to adapting typefaces to digital media.
Carter says that when creating a typeface design, inspiration comes from the desire of “being pushed into exploring something new.” Typefaces arise from people’s creative ideas with a flexibility to adapt to technological changes.
Design For All 5 Senses
In this engaging talk, designer Jinsop Lee explains his theory of 5-sense design. Jinsop argues that most designers focus on making things look very pretty and add a little of touch, but the other three senses are commonly overlooked. He affirms that design should not also look great, but also feel, smell and sound great.
He also explains why incorporating the five senses into any piece of design can lead to an immersive experience. His humorous approach does not only make the talk entertaining, but highly interesting.
Three Ways Good Design Makes You Happy
What are two key elements of a great product? Good design and emotion, according to Don Norman. In this 13 minute talk, Norman explains the information processing levels broken down into three components: visceral, behavioral and reflective. He defines the three emotional levels that a well-designed product must include to succeed. Norman explains his theory through a series of examples.
Intricate Beauty by Design
Marian Bantjes worked for over 20 years in the graphic design and typography industry. Surprisingly, when she changed the way she was working to pursue what she liked to do, the results were better than she expected; she became extremely popular. Marian affirms that the key to success in design is to work with a more personal approach.
Marian focuses on creating designs that benefit her clients and herself. Her aim is to create interesting, compelling and sustaining designs, so as part of her creation process she asks herself the following questions: Does it bring joy? Is there a sense of wonder? Does it appeal to curiosity? The next time you finish a design project, ask yourself these questions.
Designing For Simplicity
A rule of thumb in design is to keep it simple. We’ve all heard that before, right? However, John Maeda examines real life examples about complexity and simplicity in a way that makes listeners think critically about their own designs. Maeda, the author of the book “The Laws of Simplicity”, explains the connection between technology and art and how this mix can complicate the life of designer. This talk is both funny and informative.
We are All Designers
When John Hockenberry was a child, his father used to talk a lot about bad design. Jack Hockenberry taught him that every object should imagine a user and should cast a user in a story starring the user and the object. As his father stated: good design is about supplying intent.
Intent is what journalist and author John Hockenberry talks about in this inspiring TED talk. He explains that “an object devoid of intent; it’s random, it’s imitative, it repels us.” John shares his personal story of how a pair of flashy wheels showed him “the value of designing a life of intent.”
What Your Designs Say About You
Sebastian Deterding draws attention to how our visions of morality and good life reflect in the design of objects. When working on a new design project, designers should ask this question: “what vision of the good life does my product convey?” A great design conveys intention, effect, values and virtues. As every piece of artwork comes with certain values embedded in it, it is important to know beforehand what you want to transmit.
Design is in The Details
Designers should bring together the small to help facilitate and create the big. It seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? What is inspiring about this TED talk is how branding and design guru Paul Bennett explains that design should focus on solutions to everyday problems.
A great designer puts himself/herself in other people’s shoes, and uses that information to come up with solutions to problems that are often overlooked by everyone. Bennett suggests that design is about re-framing the ordinary. To get off the beaten path, you need to see things as an opportunity to create new possibilities.
How Great Design Makes Ideas New
Legendary graphic designer Milton Glaser draws attention to the creative process of designing a poster. He explains how he breaks down ideas, starts brainstorming ideas and comes up with new ones.
Glaser dives deep into a painting inspired by Piero Della Francesca explaining the challenges he had and his response to them. He admits that he has often had to explain some of his posters, even though graphic artists state “if you have to explain it, it ain’t work ”
This 6-minute talk is full of humor and laughter. John Hodgman analyzes the design of three modern objects, and shares his perception of their functionality and aesthetics in a humorous way. Hodgman ends up by affirming that everyday objects, like an iPhone, can become an extension of our brain. One of the most entertaining on the list and a must-watch!
Beyond these 10 TED talks for designers, there are hundreds of others that can fuel your love of design and hopefully give you some inspiration for your next project. Listening to unique stories can help you focus on what’s most important in a designer’s life: passion for design. If you would like to recommend another Ted talk about design that’s not on our list, please write us below.