Live @ designFAO

Kate Pincott, João Miranda & Benny Zuffolini - Dealing with Design in a Post-Democratization Era
November 1, 2022

Bruno: Do you, do you think like there's actually something that defines what design is that people can actually understand in the market?

Benny: I think there is, but I think that we would all have our own and disagree about it. So I don't think that there is a universal one, basically.

Bruno: Good answer, I would say. You guys agree, disagree?

Kate: I agree with that. I like, um... Katie Dill. She's the head of design at Stripe. And she said that designers interrogate the present to reimagine the future. And I keep coming back to that again and again. It just sits with me. Well, this feels like a really comfy jumper. Yeah.

[Intro Music]

Hello, everyone. And welcome back to a very special episode of the Design is for Everyone podcast.

First let's set the stage. We are in Faro, Algarve. The southernmost region of Portugal. Around us. We see miles of beautiful seaside. And for a day, we're surrounded with designers and friends chilling and just talking about cool topics to boost our energy and creativity.

Did you like that? That was the driver of designFAO. A new design conference that's so gently invited us to join their stage. For a very special conversation with three amazing people. Tree amazing designers that accepted the challenge of sharing their design insights with us.

They were Kate Pincott. Amazing design coach slash Head of Design at Mathereum.João Miranda, typographer extraordinaire. And, finally, Benny Zuffolini. Product design director, mother of bunnies and great conversationist the topic of the conversation was dealing with design in a post democratization era. And the best I can do Is let you all listen to the conversation.


Bruno: So for a change of pace, we're actually not gonna have a talk. I know that my name was on the schedule as a speaker, but I'm gonna be more of a moderator.

Hi, I'm Bruno. I'm behind the project called Design is for Everyone. And actually what you're gonna see right now is a podcast recording on stage.

Basically, we're gonna have a conversation. I'm gonna be joined by three of the other speakers and I hope you enjoy the conversation. So please welcome on stage Benny, João, and Kate.

So for context, starting a few years ago I started noticing how... with the world of design being more and more prevalent into businesses, and into the way that we actually do our day. I kind of went with the decision like: "Yeah, why don't other people learn about this?"

So I started thinking about what if everyone learned about design. And I didn't really have to do much about it. The world kind of started evolving, and that's where this post democratization era comes about. In my opinion, nowadays, people think or know a little bit more about. It's like it's open. Everyone in this room has most likely had a conversation with people that understand or don't understand design, but believe at least that they can use a couple of tools or something like that.

And I know that there are probably many haters, or lovers of Canva here, but that's... one of the best examples on the market here.

So today the idea is for the three of them, and me here, to discuss a little bit about that. But I'm gonna handle it as I do with every episode of my podcast. All my podcasts start without a proper introduction, but I'm gonna ask them a little bit to present themselves. And my, my first question... and you can be like, we can start here with Kate and then go 1 by 1.

I would love if you could present yourselves and how you got into design in the first place. So, Kate, if you wanna start

Kate: All right. So you've got five hours each, yeah?

Bruno: I would love to do so, but no.

Kate: Okay. Graphic design. I was brought into graphic design because I was in an art school and everybody was making crazy sculptures and paintings.

And I just kept asking: "What is the intention of this piece? What is the interaction and what is the outcome? And how can I optimize it?" And I... I was really interested in engineering to serve certain outcomes and my teacher said: "Yeah, you might be more interested in graphical communication, than expression and art." So that's how I got into it.

And I started out as a freelancer and contracted in many different places. I realized very quickly that staying in one place for too long wasn't for me cuz I was so curious. And so I contracted for over eight years. Then I did a little bit at Facebook, as a permanent employee. So I could understand what it felt like to be a cog in the machine, and then I quickly realized that coaching was what I loved. So that's what I've been doing since.

And to keep my blade sharp, I also... I'm head of design in a real world. Because otherwise you get lazy.

Bruno: Everyone knows that. Of course.

Kate: That's it.

Bruno: João?

João: So it's kind of a similar story in the sense of like, I had no idea what design was.

So I was reallyinto graffiti. That's pretty much like the most tangible thing that got me into what I do nowadays and it end up being kind of like... a mistake, which is also something beautiful about the creative process. Is how my career kind of started because there was a lot of pressure, like some 15 years ago that, if you're fairly creative, maybe you want to go into painting, architecture, or maybe both.

But design was not like... at least, was not exposed in my circle. In my community. Like the same way that these two areas were because... there's also like a really close relation to the unemployment . So if you really want to do something greater than unemployment pick one of these two.

So I end up going to Uni in Lisbon. And there I got like, acquainted to now, like... this thing existed. It started to take shape. Then I was just like this whole problem solving, it's my jam. And I moved to London eight years ago, where I've been working most of my time, as a freelancer in big branding and consulting agencies.

And as a side, typography, which is big passion, and I'll have a whole session to get into that detail.

Bruno: Benny?

Benny: Cool. So, okay. For me it was graphic design. Similarly, I didn't know what it was, but what happened for me was in my last year of high school, I went to those organized open days of universities. Not knowing what I was gonna do, cause I had good grades and lots of interests, but I couldn't really picture myself in any Job.

So I just collected leaflets and I went to presentations for all the departments. And the overwhelming feeling that I had at the end of the day was that those leaflets were crap. And the pagination was so bad. Like for the literature department, I got an A4 page with just black text. I was never gonna read that. It really upset me and I realized that maybe that's what I wanted to do. Maybe I would be good at visual communication.

And then I realized that I've been doing that all along cuz I have the most color coded notes of my whole high school.

And yeah. So I went to a graphic school. I didn't love it just because I think most people that were with me at that graphic school saw themselves more as artists than communicators. But then I moved to London, immediately after. And UX was becoming a thing those days. And yeah, that was much more up my street.

Bruno: Great. I kind of mirror a little bit the experience of João. Also. I don't think anyone around me even knew what design was when I was about to go to college. I learned to play with tools very young. Again, ADHD profits... That you can actually learn things just because tweaking with it, it's fun.

And I was like... I remember being 10 year old playing with Macromedia Flash. That's not normal, but I found it on a computer. On like an informatics course or something like that. Um... but it really kind of led to that moment where when I had to go to college, I decided: "Oh, I wanna do cool things."

And I... at first I thought: "Oh, I'm gonna be an animator for Pixar." But then I immediately forgot that once I started doing things. And eventually now I work in branding, mostly brand design. But as with many creatives, and many people that work in Portugal, I'm one of those people that has to do four or five roles into one person. Although I have a big team. But it has been very fun to see how everyone has this little different journeys with little highlights like that.

So. My first question to all of you, and very much with this topic. I believe, and it is my belief, but I love to have this conversations because I want everyone else's point. That the world has changed their perspective on design. Right?

Since we started our careers. Since we started doing the stuff that we do, and we do it right now, probably also very differently from what it was back then. Almost everyone here started like: "Oh, I started in graphic" or "I started in graffiti." So like what do you see as like the biggest changes since you joined the world of design, in terms of the perspective that people have on our work? Sort of like that.

João: I can share like, my experience with peers in the industry specifically. Like the niche that is type.

Because it's... It's an area that is inside graphic design. Like, it's not common to have a relationship directly to a client. Although that exists. But it means that it's like, kind need to know graphic design, or design and graphic design and then type design. And what I've realized is that I've worked with people that, they went to uni straight to study type design.

So they already knew that there was like enough to just study something as specific as, as that. And to me, that was not even a thing.

I wouldn't question when I was like 17, or 16 years old that fonts were something that was like a person behind, developing that. And that was like... now I know a lot of work in order to ship like a fun family and what not.

That to me was one of the things that I feel like the online communities, like the community that I had available next to me, was much narrower. And now you can... you can choose. And you can look for them and you are able to find them. Which was something that back in the days, I thought that was a little bit more difficult just to find. Or more importantly, like as a general note, to know that a certain thing exists and you have that nowaday.

Benny: That's interesting. I have... I think... so you were saying your perspective is from a bit niche. I'm thinking from the perspective of having always worked in house at tech companies.

What I noticed the change, in other people's perception is very much, um... well, what is a designer? What, what are they supposed to be doing? And it changed in very surprising ways. When I started it was the, the web designer on Photoshop. Then it became the digital designer. And suddenly you had an advantage if you knew how to code. And you were almost expected. Like web designer job descriptions said: HTML, CSS knowledge required.

Now, it went almost on the other side with UX, with Design Thinking. Design has much more of a seat at the table in product strategy, which is great. However, we end up being product manager a lot of the time.

So 10 years ago you needed to know coding languages. Now you need to know a whole different set of skills. I'm not convinced that in any of this spectrum of situations, people actually knew what design was.

Bruno: Which is very common, I would say. And Kate, do you have anything to add to that?

Kate: Yeah, I definitely agree with what you were saying about moving from how things look and feel, to what's the strategy? I think the biggest shift in the last two years, even five years, I would say design. Especially in my coaching, when people come to me and say: "I'm struggling with this." It was: "No one's listening to me. I'm not getting the influence that I want in my team and in my products." Now it's: " People are listening to me, but I don't know what to do."

So for so long they were whining about not getting enough attention. Now they have the attention, now they have the seat at the table as you say, and it's like: "Well, what are you gonna say?" so I think that's quite a big shift and we need to kind of pick up with that.

The other thing is, because our world is more connected and global, we are never dealing with one touchpoint. So UX designers traditionally had to think about a website. An app. Now it's really important that as designers, we think about systems, and we think about, you know, where does someone come from before they come to the website? Where do they go after? Where do we fit in the bigger p... the puzzle?

So I think there's a kind of bigger perspective. We need to have the ability to zoom out and then zoom in like the helicopter. At all levels. And I think that's a new skill too.

Benny: Yeah. Actually, if I can add on that. There were certain specialism that developed over time. Like I was saying from what designer you know, then it was UX, and then UX research and then service design. And I saw a lot of other titles, but I'm not even gonna mention them cuz it some do sound made up too. Those are...

Bruno: They're way too many.

Benny: Yeah. But it is quite telling that now service design is considered to be part of design, and service design helps a lot more with that systemic thinking. And it's quite fascinating. If they knew how to use us, that would be ace.

Bruno: I think that it's fairly common and I've heard it many times. Like people just looking at that. And if you look at... I dunno about your guys's opinion, but if you look at the, even the way that the titles around design change based on context.

If you are in the fashion world, design is one thing. If you are in the tech world, design is one thing. If you are in the graphics world, design is another thing. Like people have their own definitions of design. Which begs for the next question, which is, do you think there's a good definition of design?

Do you, do you think like there's actually something that defines what design is that people can actually understand in the market?

Benny: I think there is, but I think that we would all have our own and disagree about it. So I don't think that there is a universal one, basically.

Bruno: Good answer, I would say. You guys agree, disagree?

Kate: I agree with that. I like, um...

Katie Dill. She's the head of design at Stripe. And she said that designers interrogate the present to reimagine the future. And I keep coming back to that again and again. It just sits with me. Well, this feels like a really comfy jumper. Yeah.

Bruno: Yeah. And it feels like our job actually has an impact, just from those words. That's probably the most eloquent way that I've ever heard someone trying to define design in such a small sentence. Which is... which is fun.

Kate: To interrogate the present and reimagine the future. And that's a very, also very active, you know? I like that as well.

João: Yeah. I think it's something that's... It has to do with, with purpose. I think that's something that is really important, and at the core of designers and industry. It's just like questioning why you're doing that and understanding the context. Is it relevant to spend my time on this? Because once you get to a certain age, you starting to regret it. Like, the time that we spend doing some stuff and the contribution that you may or may not give with what you wanna do.

So that lens of focusing on a problem and then thinking about the future, is basically like we have the opportunity. At different scales, in different areas, just to have a bit of an impact that will create a ripple effect in where you work, with the people that you... that you work with. And also, ultimately of course, to the people that you work for. That you're producing.

So... it's really hard. Like I've been asked these questions since university days and I will always change my answer to what design is. That's just like really difficult.

Benny: While I, I do really like that definition that you used. But on the other hand, I have a bit of a... there's something nagging me about defining design because it feels like gate keeping almost. Or that there is a risk of gate keeping cause for example, sometimes I get into discussions at work. There's misunderstanding over where will my team get involved because they need to design a structure, or an api. But the word design is in there instead of like, does that mean that we ask the designers? Like, no, it's a slightly different thing.

But then is it. But then, I dunno. Because designing organizations, for example, it's a completely different concept. But we would probably be great at it. Some of us already do it. It becomes such a holistic concept that it's almost culty. Um... yeah.

Bruno: It's a good way to talk about it. And picking a little bit on what João said, and you said. I think, and I think like even experience... the moment youstart entering the world of design, if you're coming out of uni... even if you're starting by yourself, which nowadays is very common, and you have a lot of people also changing areas to come to work on design, right?

Like I've known... I've been teaching UX/UI classes for about a year and a half. In that time, I had at least three or four different types of people, with different professions coming in. Like: "I want to be a designer" or many times UX designers because there are a lot of other professions that kind of align with that.

Communications specialists, psychologists, people that like to use and study these techniques to study the human psyche and everything. But it's interesting because I always see it like, dependent on where you are in your life, it also affects a lot your view on what design is. And what we just all said of our beginnings.

Like we started with graphic design because back then probably it was what it was easier for us to think about. We can't expect someone that is like 16, 17, 18 year that is still starting to learn about how to think about themselves in the world, to go into a business and say: "Oh, now we fix our problems and think about how we work."

And I don't think it's easy for us to teach people to actually think like that. The experience affects a lot of that change. And...

João: It's, it's a highly contextual, I think. You cannot talk about design by itself. You have to define the context that you're talking about design.

Like a thing that is a constant joke, is that like: "Oh, I hate Comic Sans and all of that."

You probably hate Comic Sans in a restaurant. But there was a purpose. It was designed for, for kids and to help them to just write and to read. Like it was a little bit more friendly. I don't use Comic Sans by the way. Like that's not the point. But it's there. There was like a, a purpose.

Maybe I will, once I have a kid. Maybe it'll be like: "Oh! There you are, I've been waiting for you." But it's... it has to be contextualized. I think design, as a word, throughout the years... to me, my experience has been diluting its own meaning. And that is like, hence why it's important to define a context to what we are talking about. It's becoming just a word.

Benny: But can we all agree that we hate Papyrus?

Bruno: Including the Avatar title? Yes.

Benny: Yeah. That's just too much.

Bruno: No, but that's, that's great. And it is also very much in line with what we see in the way that the industry changes, right? The context changes, so design adapts to the context. And it kind of goes into the... the why I started this.

It feels like design has been this innate skill to humanity that we adjusted to whatever means it comes, when it comes. And it doesn't mean that it already, it didn't existed before. Because if we talked about the word design as it is nowadays, probably started around 20th century somewhere. Probably a little bit earlier, but not much more than that.

But if you look at it, probably there were people way past, in like medieval times that were doing things that nowadays would translate to what we define as design. So it's interesting to see that, very much like other skills that nowadays we use that context to define them. This thing that we all do in different reasons, in different spaces, also adapted to that I would say.

It's been fun to see how everyone handles this. But it's... I just like the context bit. It's like, it's really cool.

Kate: Have you heard the... there's a common interview question. Some of you might have had, had this in interview, they say: "Design is the design of the design to create a design. Now name each of the meanings of the word design in this sentence." And then you know. You're asked to try and pick apart what we just did that in different contexts. The same word means different things.

Now I know a lot of swear words that you could do exactly the same thing too. But it's... it's a fun exercise. If you have time later, write it down and have a go.

Benny: They really ask that in interviews? Cause that's mean.

Bruno: But it comes to the point where... I've had a couple of chats on this. For example, language has been a big player into the way that people define what we do. Be it that it's not just western languages that kind of try to simplify what design is. Be it into cultural context the word design can mean different things, right?

I know that probably when we were both starting design in Portugal was much closer to drawing, as in context than it was to actually what would be considered to graphic design and stuff like that. And it already had a few years of at least design adapted to commercial type of work. Like agencies and anything that had to do with advertising and stuff like that.

But outside of that world, there was still not much of an awareness. Like it was a graphical art. Yeah. You know, it was like, it was always attached to the art. And that meaning in that context on how language translates these concepts has been one of the biggest... I'm not gonna say pain points, but the most interesting, like, things that we tend to bring into these conversations.

People have different experiences because of how languages, and meanings have affected the way of working and seeing things.

Benny: I generally am more comfortable talking about myself as a UX practitioner. Just because I think there's less chances for people to misunderstand. I know I'm a designer, but there no need to get into that debate.

Bruno: It's easier to make it so it doesn't sound like a designer.

Benny: Yeah, okay. It's just kind of fun, isn't it? Yeah.

Kate: That's actually a good question. Is... and another take on is how do you explain it to other people? And then to your point, who are those people?

So when I'm talking to my parents, I just say things like: "I design digital experiences." That's it. We don't need to go any further. But when we're, you know, doing stakeholder management, it's not helpful to focus on the mock up, or on the thing. What's helpful is the outcome. So I'll say: "We are designing behaviors and habits." It's time based. That's what we are designing, not not the thing in front of us.

And so I think you're, you are right. We will find these little hooks or little tricks that help us to get our message across in different contexts.

Benny: Although I wish I'd found one for explaining stuff to my grandparents cause I'm pretty sure they died thinking I fixed printers, or doing computer stuff.

Bruno: Yeah. Which is still very normal. My mom still thinks of me as the IT guy that actually do some drawings. That's basically it. Um... no. And... going from the context. There's two topics that I always bring up in the way that I think the world has affected its views on design nowaday.

One being technology and the tools that everyone has available. The second one being the communities and the space that we talk about this type of stuff. Things like this room, but now exist in the millions and thousands of people on the internet kind of gathering and discussing what things mean.

Do you think on a first level, the tools, specifically, change the way that people that we work with think about design?

Benny: Can I take this? Can I take this?

Bruno: Go.

Benny: Thank you. So you mentioned Canva earlier. And I, have had a strong relationship with Canva of hate. And now, and now actually love. I... controversial opinion, but I actually initially designed my presentation in Canva. But in my old job, the wife of the CEO used to constantly design stuff in Canva, and then pushed them out without passing by the proper design marketing department, because Canva makes people think that they are designers.

However, shouldn't they? If they can design a thing? Like where does it... where does it go and where does it end? And then I see that the part where it becomes a profession.

It's way more subtle than that. I don't actually have an issue with someone creating their own leaflet. I have an issue, if they use just a generic blue instead of a brand blue, maybe. Yeah. And they have an issue if they, don't consider the end user. That's probably the main one.

But definitely tools and the democratization of tools have changed a lot. I just don't think t hat they did it intentionally. The intention wasn't, it was never taught. Or, with this tool you can do these things, which is great. But you still need designers to do these other things. For example, it was always just like: "Oh, if I can use Photoshop then I don't need a designer" or stuff like that. And it created more friction than what it needed to. There wasn't a curated message.

João: Yeah, but I think there's something great about that. Cuz then you get to do mistakes and you're not thinking about the right thing to do with this tool. So you end up just like fucking up the tool a bit and you end up going to uncharted the territories.

And like. My opinion on this subject, it's actually a lot more analog. If you think about like a pen and a pencil, if you're just like doing a drawing. Your mind... you know that with a pen you cannot erase and with a pencil you can erase. So that's already really, really big difference on something that ultimately can the same goal, the same purpose. It just changes your, your approach.

And once you have like this different mindset, just because it's a pen versus a pencil, that's already like a big, big difference in how you will behave with those tools.

Regarding the digital context. I think the problem is that it's always a pencil. So you never have, like... You are always thinking beta. You're never thinking about like, I should stop here. And I think that's the current problem with technologies, that you can quickly get into, really deep details and forgetting the overview.

So that helicopter metaphor is really important for us to refer back to. Um... Yeah, so I think the tools, it's very much like the mindset that you approach them and, and nowadays, like how you mix them up, I think. Find that quite exciting as well.

Kate: I think this comes a lot up a lot in coaching. Designers will come to me and say: "I have to use this. I have to do that. I have to follow this." And they're feeling kind of uncomfy, we go back to kind of the clothes metaphor us, but like wearing a shoe that's already tight and giving you blisters and you're just, you know, you're being asked not to walk, You're being asked to run in this uncomfortable shoe.

And really what we should be doing is finding tools that map our mindset like that help us to share our uniqueness with the world. And obviously then that's counter to finding a tool that works for everyone. So, there's an element of having to learn the tool and its capabilities. But then pause and step back and say: "Well, what do I want to bring to this? What, what? What's my mindset? And how are these things serving my mindset as a creative thinker?" And I think that's also very similar, and you can correct me if I'm going off on a tangent here, but it's also similar to the intuition versus data argument. Right?

Cause data is structured, it's a tool, it's out in the world. It's very similar. Whereas intuition, we also need that, right? We need to be gut led.

So maybe there's something for us in the, in the next decade is to try and find that balance. Cause we definitely swung far too reliant on data, and reliant on the tooling around us. And we have a deficit of imagination.

Bruno: That's a great point of view. Yeah. And I would say if you wanna clap, you can clap. Um... and, and I would say, and I have these conversations, a lot of times. Education and the way that like, people actually learn things has a lot of weight into it. Most of what I've been saying about the entire project has even been, if you look at the world and the way like, how literacy changed. How we evolved, for the good or the bad. Meaning those 50 years of amount of trash and everything, it comes with literacy too.

And it comes with the, the way that people can actually speak and communicate and learn and talk with each other. But then, for example, in design, and many of people here are still on uni or been on uni for a while, and I had conversations, for example, yesterday on a meetup with a bunch of students here, and they were like: "Okay, so what tools you guys learn?" and they all go for the same thing, which is at Adobe. It's like, if it would be, became this profession that was centralized under one tool type of stuff. Not, not one tool, but one toolkit.

Which feels very weird because before, designers were these creatives, they kind. In terms of communications, at least they kind of can, could experiment with materials. They could be a little bit more artists in the way that they were. And then the moment we went, entered the digital age, we went from having a lot of liberty into just, just having one thing. All of a sudden, everyone has one of these in their hands [a smartphone]. And a kid with Instagram can actually create great communication materials.

Someone that has, Capcut can actually work on building their own videos, and telling their own stories. And becoming designers of their own personal brand or whatever. And I think it kind of shifted a lot of that conversation again into a space where we can also do a lot of that. It's just that our starting point is very static in a lot of ways, I would say. At least it feels like that's my experience. I don't know if you guys agree or not, but, or anyone in the room.

Benny: This feels like kind of connected to what we were saying about the definition of design.

Bruno: Yeah.

Benny: Which is very broad. Thinking of the tooling that we have at our disposal, I do really like when I see... I love TikTok. Okay? Um...

Bruno: Same.

Benny: It's fantastic. I've just seen people go on this thing and figure out a way to use it, that the tool enabled them to, but then their creativity and intuition contributed to that. To create these bits of content that are incredible. Obviously I'm not talking about the dancing bits

But there's communities there, and they... the way they communicate is so effective that it's literally a learning tool now. And that was there even design involved in that? I know that there was, but when you think about it, like how much of it was got in playing with the tool and trying to fuck up the tool, you know? But it created something that if we had sat down on pen and paper, we probably wouldn't have come up with it. So, I don't know. I think I went on a tangent with one

Bruno: But it's a great tangent. And then that's the whole point of these conversations. As many tagents as possible, because it feels like it's everywhere, not just in one place. Right? And, and knowing that when we talk about tools, anything can be a tool, right?

Like if we talk about the democratization of design, you can see that PowerPoint was one of the first digital design tools for many people.

Audience Member: No.

Bruno: Word art. Of course you guys used word art. Of course. Don't, don't, don't come with those. But that's the thing. Like, and even today, many of those tools, are overpowered to the extent, like if people actually take the time to learn about them. For 10, 15, 20 years, someone has been developing design tools to help people communicate better or to whatever, explain themselves better. But most people still will use them in the same ways, which is like, what is intuitive, what is easy, what is fast? And they will start to enter this, the type of like in-between, of what design actually is or not, or what communication is or not.

But it feels like we're at that stage that it's accessible to the point where anyone can feel like they are part of the process. And that comes in, for example, community... not the design tools as in the things that you can create visuals and stuff like that. But then the fact that now we have design tools that are built for professional designers, but then include other people in the process and stuff like that, right? Like that's even another tangent if you go there. So I feel that's, that's interesting.

But shifting a little bit, because we also are short on time then on the communities and the content side. You talked about TikTok, and I think TikTok, for example, is an excellent example on how people started sharing information and knowledge.

YouTube and other video has become a very strong way of content. But have you seen or feel, or do you use communities more recently to learn? Or content? Or like any specific channels in the last few years? At least for me, I feel like it's been one of the biggest differences in the last five years in my career.

Is like I went from being someone that had a small community, which was like my team and probably some locals. But nowadays I speak with people everywhere around the world about these things. And it's super interesting because it brings much more topics to the conversation, much more points of view. So just wanted to know about you guys.

Benny: I'd love to say that I do, because I do believe it's incredibly important and I direct all of my Juniors, Mids, anyone in my team to find their communities. For me personally, I'm just so overwhelmed by the amount of information out there I can't keep up anymore. It might also be because I used to be a lot in communities when I was younger. Although that was fan fiction communities, so a different topic.

But I do think communities are the real point of democratization. Like people are helping each other. To me, that's still incredible. When I think that I could go on a Slack channel of something, ask a question, and someone's gonna answer it, They don't know me, They're going get nothing out of it. Yeah, it's kind of fantastic.

And In the past few years I've had a lot of people joining my team that were career changing. And they have thrived thanks to communities. Either the communities that they formed with the courses that they did or communities online. But anyway, that's what gave them, if not the knowledge, at least the confidence. So I do think that are incredible.

I kind of wish they were around when I had the attention span.

Bruno: Exactly.

João: It's knowing that you're sharing your weirdness with someone else. Like I think that's the beauty of like those niche. To me, like a community that has been with me like for like the past 15 years, like punk hardcore scene it's something that I get so much from and I know that I can go past the music because you have like a couple of chords and that's it. But then there's like the whole like devotion to something that, you know, that there's a really slim chance to make money off of it.

So I think what I like about that community is that it's quite genuine. There's like a bit of a network of support as well. And then you have like... If I'm in a design community, very, likely be talking about design. And that's what I sometimes end up feeling that I had to steer away from those communities a bit. Like just being a bit of an observer, mostly because I was feeling like quite overwhelmed with the amount of things.

You want to keep up. New technologies. And so I have like some digital channels to keep up with, like AR and artificial intelligence and type as well. But I feel like the idea of the community nowadays, to me, it's more meaningful if I get exposed to the things that I wouldn't be looking for.

So communities that give me not what I want, but probably what I need. Not knowing about that. So yeah. Just enables of like serendipity. That's... that's where I'm.. Yeah.

Kate: I love that. I think for me, community... is about connection. And. I mean, if you'd said the word community to me a few years ago, I probably would've would've gone [shivers], like I just, that I would've repelled against it because I felt like there was such a responsibility to, toshow up, participate, contribute, give, give, give.

And it was only recently that I realized, I think it's kind of... do you know the art of gathering? Prya Parker? Yeah, a few nods. She's a, it's a brilliant book, and she's a great author and she talks about having intentionality, having an intention for when you show up to any gathering. Whether it's five people or hundreds, and I think that really gave me a sigh of relief.

So I can intentionally show up to a community, and my role is gonna be to listen. My role is gonna be to listen and maybe reflect back. My role might be just to share one story. My contribution might be to help one person. Or it might be to, you know, do a full blown talk or something.

But I think it's really helpful to remember that we are in control of what we contribute and, and that there's no expectation in this, you know, online world. And we choose how we show up and when and how much that suits our own mental health. That doesn't need to be that pressure.

Bruno: I think the... we were even talking aboutthe fact that simple tools that communities tried, for example. Like Discord many feel very overwhelmed by it. I also felt the first time I ever used a Discord channel. I had just joined and there was like a 30,000 people channel.

So it's like I open it and there's a thread that goes like two message per second. You can't read that. No human can read that, but some people like to use that method of communication and it's fine. Nowadays, I actually manage Discord channels, which is even weirder, but it was because kind of the process of going into communities that had the space for me to learn how to enter that world. To learn how to ignore the noise when it's not beneficial for myself. That kind of helped me also be better at what I do nowadays on that.

But it's interesting because it always feels like there's nuggets of communities out there for anyone right now. If you feel like you want to learn from a tool. If you feel like you wanna learn from some specific people. From the point of view of neurodiversity, which is also very common nowadays. I feel like it became that there's a space for everyone, to kind of adjust to that reality a little bitmore. While before we were still exploring it.

And I don't think it went from we didn't knew about it. It went from like Web 1.0 people were starting to build communities, and then during the age of content creation, those communities died because it was all about me, me, me, me, me. And now again, it is about the collective effort as a whole. And it comes to the end of the day, and it's like: "We want to be better together. We want to learn together. We want to push others." And design actually went from the me phase to the collective phase, I think. In that moment. And it feels very embracing right now.

Okay. And since we have like five minutes, I'm gonna end with the final question that I ask everyone that I ever bring to my podcast, which is very simple. It's if you believe that design is really for everyone, to make and to consume and to do whatever, or not, and if so, why?

Kate: Hmm... The question is, is design for everybody?

Bruno: For everyone.

Kate: Not should everyone be a designer? That's different.

Bruno: It's different.

Kate: Okay.

Bruno: Purposely different.

Kate: Okay. Yes. I believe that design should be for everyone. As long as you are experiencing things around you. As long as you're interacting and seeking connection. I think that we all deserve to receive and to give connection.

To connect first to ourselves and then to connect to others. And the best design is when you connect to yourself really, really well so that you can give more to others. And I think design is constantly iterating on those two leavers and it'll fit out of balance. It's normally because we over optimize on one more than another. I think that's what excites me about the word of design. How can we better connect to ourselves and to each other?

João: It's a tricky one. I've actually been thinking about that a lot because it's really difficult to talk about design is for everyone, by not talking about design. Cuz I think everyone implies like everyone. And I think like the imbalances that we see many times is that we didn't focus on niche of people that actually need to be elevated compared to others.

I could be talking about racism, of course it's like a big, big thing. But there's so many other things that's like accessibility, that are like quite important. So... I think its just understanding that by saying design for everyone, and I'm feeling I'm not gonna answer. There's, three moments. Which is just like, are you aiming for justice, equality or equity? And I think those three things can exclude some people. But maybe they will get to the greater good if we... well, if I expand to to everything.

Um... yeah. It's tricky, tricky question. Thank you. Made me think. Um... yeah. Yeah. I think that's, that's what, to me, design is for everyone. It's thinking about like everyone from individual to their context and ultimately, like you may have like a wider community that is like: "Yeah, everyone will like blue, you know?"

Benny: Mine is similar in the sense that design should be for everyone. Not in the one size fits all. Cause that's... that's not... no.

Design should be for everyone, but right now we don't even know who everyone is.

Bruno: That's a good one. Yeah. Drop the mic. There you go. And with that, I think we're done here.

Thank you all for accepting the invitation to come on stage and having this convers. I hope it at least brought a little bit of a different perspective to everyone on, on actually the amount of stuff that we touch on every day as professionals in this area. Be it in context or out of it. And I hope that you can all go out with this question and think for yourselves if it really makes sense if design is for everyone.

Thank you.

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