Charles Eames is a hero of mine, as you may have noticed the quote on the top of this blog is from…


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Charles Eames is a hero of mine, as you may have noticed the quote on the top of this blog is from him. He and his wife Ray were amazing designers, but they were also hugely influential in how everyone from a graphic design student to startups to Apple thinks about the process of designing today.

It’s his birthday today, so I wanted to share notes from a 1949 talk he gave at UCLA called “Advice to Students.” It’s masterful, and I think of the last line often.

Make a list of books
Develop a curiosity
Look at things as though for the first time
Think of things in relation to each other
Always think of the next larger thing
Avoid the “pat” answer — the formula
Avoid the preconceived idea
Study well objects made past recent and ancient but never without the technological and social conditions responsible
Prepare to search out the true need — physical, psychological
Prepare yourself to intelligently fill that need
The art is not something you apply to your work
The art is the way you do your work, a result of your attitude toward it

Design is a full time job
It is the way you look at politics, funny papers, listen to music, raise children
Art is not a thing in a vacuum —
No personal signature
Economy of material
Avoid the contrived

Apprentice system and why it is impractical for them
No office wants to add another prima donna to its staff
No office is looking for a great creative genius
No office — or at least very few — can train employees from scratch

There is always a need for anyone that can do a simple job thoroughly

There are things you can do to prepare yourself — to be desirable
orderly work habits
ability to bring any job to a conclusion
drawing feasibility
lettering
a presentation that “reads” well
willingness to do outside work and study on a problem…

the primitive spear is not the work of an individual, nor is it a good tool or utensil.

To be a good designer you must be a good engineer in every sense: curious, inquisitive