Learning to design: Question everything

We assume way too much. We see our environment and how we interact with it, and we assume everything around us will always be exactly the way it is. We assume the things that influence our lives have always been and will always be the way they are, that is, until something better comes along. (That something better is the reason why we no longer live in log cabins with dirt floors, or ride horses across town, or walk around jamming out while listening to our Sony Walkman.)

Designer’s block is as bad as writer’s block. Sometimes it’s not that you can’t come up with any good ideas, but rather you can’t dismiss the bad ideas in order to discover the good ideas. The bad ideas are filled with the status quo, the mundane, the banal – the stuff we see every single day of our lives. When I experience designer’s block and I’m staring at a design of mine, I typically fight it by trying to design something that is the exact opposite of what I’m looking at. I honestly don’t know what the opposite of a house design is, but I do know that the opposite of crappy is great.

American currency is definitely one of these everyday objects that we assume must always look the way it does. Ever since you were born (especially if you’re younger than 120 years old) our money has looked pretty much the same. Sure a few years ago the Presidents’ heads became larger (which has been an ongoing occurrence since Nixon), but isn’t it really the same? Maybe a few more safety attributes to deter counterfeiting, but it’s really the same.

What if our money didn’t have to be solely colored green? What if it was made of plastic? What if we used images of American accomplishments on our money? What if our country was better represented with people other than Presidents? What if, like our coins, our paper money was different sizes? (This would make it impossible to counterfeit a hundred-dollar bill from a legitimate twenty-dollar bill.)

Check out the images of American currency designs. (And do so without getting hung up on political differences and prejudices, which seems to be the norm in our current society.)

We have at our power a device that can help you find your destination, find the price of a good or service, and (if you’re lucky) can help you get a date. That device is called the question mark.

Use it.


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