Design Is [Play] —  Making Work Play / Making Play Work

Design Is [Play] — Making Work Play / Making Play Work

name is Sarah Wilson, and I am a designer
here at Google and one of the creators of
the series, “Design Is.” We created this monthly
speaker series as a space for those working in
creativity and technology to come together
and really think about ideas and
perspectives that really help shape
designing a future we all want to be a part of. So today’s topic,
“Design Is Play” is a super fun one and
one that I think about in my day-to-day life. Between working
full time, having kids, oftentimes that notion of
play kind of gets pushed out. So really thinking about
how instead of work and play being in opposition
of one another, actually thinking of
them coming together. So Erin is here, Erin Jang. She is going to talk about how
play and work, yes, are often seen in opposition
of one another, but when the two
overlap, creativity does really flourish. So Erin is a designer and
Illustrator behind the Indigo Bunting, and with a
background in editorial, and multidisciplinary
design, her work is a mix of graphic
playfulness and editorial work. Erin has worked with clients
such as the “New York Times,” “GQ,” Target, Urban Outfitters,
“Bon Appetit” and “Wired,” amongst many others. And most recently, she completed
work as the design director for the “Color Factory”
in New York City and created a public
art installation at the Cooper Hewitt
Smithsonian Design Museum. She co-authored the
book “Make & Give” and is currently
working on a new project with her seven-year-old
son, which is to be published next spring. So let’s give it up for Erin. [APPLAUSE] ERIN JANG: Thank
you so much, Sarah, for the nice introduction
and thanks to the Google team for inviting me to come
speak, and all of you for coming and
showing up tonight. I’m really thrilled to be here
to talk about “Design In Play” and how the two are intertwined. I’m going to talk about
how we can approach design through the lens of
play, and about making work that also invites play. I’ll show some examples of
the projects I’ve worked on, both professional and
personal, and hopefully, illustrate some of these ideas. But before I begin, I’ll share a
little bit about my background. As Sarah said, I started out
in editorial design working as an art director at
newspapers and magazines for several years. Then eight years ago, I
started my own studio, where I work on a wide
range of creative projects. I work on magazines and books. I’ve done work with restaurants. I make posters, design
cards, and stationery. I design things for kids,
which I really love. I make infographics,
illustrations. I’ve worked on murals
and installations. I work on projects,
big and small, and while there’s a diversity
to all these different projects that I work on, one
common thread throughout is a love for playful design. So what does play have
to do with design? When we think of
play, most of us think of it as something
that’s reserved for children. We all agree how important it is
for kids to spend time playing. There have been so many articles
written about this recently, and a lot of
research studies that confirm that play is
crucial in a child’s growth and development
and creativity, and there can be consequences
when we neglect to play. There’s an important book
that talks about this written by Dr. Stuart Brown,
who’s an expert in play, and he’s spent his entire
career studying the subject. His research shows that play
is absolutely essential for us to thrive, not just as
children, but as adults, and he asserts that play
is an important catalyst for creative growth, and it
has an important place, even in our work, and
by that he’s not talking about play
just as recreation or a diversion from work– like adding a ping pong
table to an office– but play more as an attitude,
a spirit, and an approach that we can bring to
our creative work. For me, design is play. When I watch my sons playing
and making something, I’m struck by the fact that it
doesn’t look all that different from design. When we look at
these two images, we would agree that the
image on the left is design and the one on
the right is play, but could it also be
the other way around? For me, the answer is yes. The two have a lot more
in common than we realize. When I watch my sons playing,
making, and building something out of LEGOs or
Magna-Tiles, I see that there’s a creativity and
a freedom to the way that they play, but also a
seriousness to their wanting to solve a problem or
to make something good. There is imagination,
exploration, and a lot of trial and error. Many times, there’s frustration
and disappointment and things come crashing down,
but there’s always a curiosity, a spontaneity
to what they’re doing and surprise. There’s always a
goal of delight, often resulting in a
connection with others. This looks pretty similar to
our design process, I would say. Many of my favorite
artists and designers, they all share
this understanding of design and play
being intertwined, and they all express an aspect
of playfulness in their design approach, so I just want
to quickly highlight four of these design heroes
who are sort of my role models in work in play. Corita Kent, she’s the first
example that comes to my mind. She was an artist, a nun, a
social activist, and a teacher and her pop art in
her life as a whole was this joyful, colorful, and
generous celebration of play. She understood that
fluid relationship between work and play and in
her book, “Learning By Heart,” she points out that the
definitions of work and play can actually look
pretty similar. One dictionary
definition of work is to “make, effect,
or bring into being,” and the same dictionary defines
play as to “bring about, work, or effect,” and she says that,
“Play is a way of working, and working is a way of
playing, and our best times are when working and
playing are the same.” And she even coined a new term
for that ideal intersection of the two. It’s such a good word, “plork.” We should all start
using this word. As a teacher, she
encouraged her students to make time to “plork,”
to resist solemnity and self-consciousness
and to see and make things with fresh eyes. Ray and Charles
Eames, of course, they understood how intertwined
work and play are and for them, working hard was
a true pleasure, and playing meant continually pushing
themselves to experiment in all kinds of mediums, from
furniture to film, textiles and toys, and they embodied that
spirit of relentless curiosity and they took play seriously. They often said that
toys and games– and I would add play
as an umbrella here– are the prelude
to serious ideas. Their devotion to play led to
making timeless objects that sparked imagination, and
they made playful design accessible to everybody. Tibor Kalman is another
favorite designer of mine, and he was an example of
a playful provocateur. He used play to flip
things upside down and transform the
ordinary into designs that were attention-grabbing
and unexpected. His double-sided umbrella
is an example of humor and that playful
twist of perception of looking up to see a blue
sky when it’s pouring rain. He addressed social issues with
his provocative and surprising designs for “Colors”
magazine, and then there were the thought-provoking
holiday gifts that his company, M &
Co., sent out every year. One Christmas, his
team sent out packages to all of their
clients and it was a box with a meal that
resembled those that were given to the
homeless on Christmas Day, and inside was a
sandwich, a can of juice, a mustard packet, and
a slice of pound cake, and a $20 bill that the
recipient was instructed to either keep and
spend for themselves or to donate to charity. So Kalman, he was this expert
in a really different kind of playful creativity
of designing unexpected things
that would challenge or even shock people out
of their complacency. Paul Rand, the master
of playfulness, he said that the eye
should be made joyful through form and content. With simplicity and
abstraction, color and wit, he infused his designs
from corporate logos to children’s books
with a playfulness in that form and imagery. He knew the power of a
deceptively simple graphics solution, one that
made people smile, and could use that to
communicate a complex idea. He found it pretentious when
a visual message professed to be profound and
elegant, and he found it total
nonsense the notion that a design that was humorous
or playful was less than. “I like things
that are playful,” he said, “things that are happy. I like to make the
client smile,” he said. So these four design
heroes, they demonstrate to us the value and the
power of playful design, but how do we go about
returning to that playful spirit in our work? And I’m going to share just
some really small practical ways that have helped me to exercise
this playfulness in the hope that it might inspire
you in some way. So I think all playful
design, it first begins with looking
with unusual eyes. One of my favorite writers,
Frederick Buechner, he defines art simply
as, “paying attention, to stop, look, and listen
to what’s around you, and to see it as more mysterious
than you might otherwise suspect.” Corita Kent taught this very
thing to her art students, teaching them that inspiration
is often right in front of you, and that the creative
process begins by noticing the
uncommon in the common, and the magic in the mundane. She even made her students
literally walk around with a viewfinder, a
small piece of paper with a little square
cut out in the middle, as a way to discover
unexpected beauty in the world. Last summer, I
worked on a project called “Manhattan Color Walk,”
an installation at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian
Design Museum. And together with my friend,
artist Leah Rosenberg, we had the idea to sample color
from every street in Manhattan, from the northern
tip at 220th Street all the way down
to Battery Park. So I walked the entire length
of the city, over 50 miles. My Fitbit was freaking out. It didn’t know
what was happening. And I took photos of every
unique, colorful moment that I could find, in
essence, practicing this principle of
playful seeing, to look for the unusual
in the usual places that I was passing everyday. I’ve lived in New York
City for over 12 years, and this project made me see
my home in a totally new light, taking me to neighborhoods that
I thought I knew but realized I hadn’t, and discovering
humor and beauty inspiration and stories through these small
squares of color that I found. Once we had one color
and one moment captured for every street, we turned
them into a Technicolor path at the museum, and it was a
moment of surprise for anyone to enjoy, and it was really
neat to see people interact with the installation. And the best part was when
they realized that the color stripe actually had some
other meaning attached to it, an observation from the city. We also made a free
guide for visitors that explained the
street and the reference for every single
color, and the hope was that this
installation would cause visitors to then leave
and look at the city with different eyes. For me, and probably for most
of you, I spend a lot of time designing on a computer
and staring at a screen, but I think one of
the best ways to play is to make with my hands and to
play with different materials and tools that are outside
of my comfort zone, and there are a
few different ways that this kind of playful
making can happen. One thing is being
short on resources. Not having enough budget
and not enough time can often be a
really good thing. It’s often forced me
to play and to come up with unexpected solutions. My first jobs out of school were
at newspapers which notoriously have really small budgets. And at the “Seattle
Times,” I was tasked with designing the weekly
“Going Out” section cover, so every week was kind of like
a “Project Runway,” make-it-work challenge. I’d be given a rough
headline, a really bad stock image, and then one or two
days to illustrate a cover. So I’d be given an
image like this. This one is of– I think it was like
the Kronos Quartet. So then I’d cut it up,
I’d add a little paint, and then turn it into this– and be kind. This is like one of the first
things I did at a college. But it’s just this theme
of making something out of nothing, and that idea would
come up again, years later, at “Esquire” magazine. The table of contents is a page. If you work in
magazines, you know that it’s a page that’s
super formatted and templated and really boring. It’s basically like
a grid of photos that are already in the
issue with text underneath. Nobody enjoys designing it. We usually give
it to the intern, and most readers probably
just skip over it after the ads, but
my creative director he wanted to rethink
this page, and so I welcomed the challenge. I took all the images from
the issue, I cut them up, and I tried rearranging them,
instead, to make one new image. I think I used about
15 different photos and illustrations in this face. So each month was a new
experiment, a new collage, often made again the day
before the page was shipping on deadline, and the
readers could then expect something new each month
and be surprised and discover a different look or a different
technique that I tried. This one was cool because
it invited the readers to play and to actually cut
up the table of contents themselves, fold it up and then
make their own origami object. Curiosity is another driving
force behind playful making. The Eames used to
say that they never wanted to delegate
understanding, and I think that’s kind of the
secret to playing really well. For me, if there is a
technique or material that I’m curious
about trying, I’ll often try to weasel it into an
illustration assignment that’s given to me. With illustration,
there are a million ways to render something
in a really sleek way and to do it super fast, but
I’m interested in the handmade and figuring out how
to make things myself and with my hands. So ESPN hired me to
create an illustration for a special issue
devoted to LeBron James, and I wanted to try to do
something new with paper that had a little bit
more depth and shadow. And so there was this one
little line in the brief that talked about LeBron and showing
his many different sides, so that sparked an
idea to hand cut individual photos of his
face to illustrate just that. First, I sifted through
hundreds of different images to find the right
range of expressions– because I’m a crazy person– sweet LeBron, sad
LeBron, fired-up LeBron, side-eye LeBron. Then I cut out
every single face, played with them at
different heights, and then made this collage. Someone probably
could have done this in like 10 minutes in Photoshop,
but I wanted to do it on paper. For a “Fortune 500” issue,
I wanted to make a 3D 500 in gold, but instead of doing
something on a computer, I wanted to see if I
could build it out of wood and then make a stop motion
of it being assembled. And this was not
the brightest idea, because I have zero
experience working in wood. I must have ordered
at least five different wood-cutting
tools on Amazon and then all these different
wood adhesives and clamps to finally put it together. But in the end,
there was something really satisfying about playing
and figuring it out by myself, and then we got to do that stop
motion that I wanted to do. [COMPUTER CLICKING] Stop motions are really
funny because they literally make everything look like it
took five seconds to make. It’s so sad. It’s like the most
labor-intensive thing to make stop motions. Anyway, another way to
play, it can come out of a need to solve a small
problem in your daily life. So when my oldest was
three, he suddenly hated eating breakfast,
and it didn’t matter what it was, we tried everything. He just wouldn’t eat and he
was just totally over it, and I was really over
trying to get him to eat. It was super stressful, and
out of my total frustration, I thought it would just be
funny to play with his food and see what happened. And to my surprise, he actually
ate everything on this plate. I’m not even kidding. So then I did it again,
and then I did it again. And I have to tell you
this as a disclaimer– this doesn’t work for every
child because I tried with my youngest and you cannot
trick him to eating vegetables. But for this moment in time, the
little trick was a lifesaver, and then these food
faces gradually became a way of playing. After seeing some of
these, “Lucky Peach” magazine contacted me about
a dream assignment– a food column on their website
where my son and I would get to go on these
food adventures and then make
ridiculous food faces. So we went grocery
shopping in Koreatown, and made this little
guy with a kimchi nose. We went to the farmer’s market
and got cool vegetables to eat. Fun fact– those
black string beans, they change color when you boil
them, which is really cool. And my son made his
own version, too. We went to town at the oldest
candy shop in New York City, and, of course, my son said
this one was his favorite. Then we took the
subway all the way to the end of the line
to Brighton Beach where there is this big
Russian community and we explored all the grocery
stores there to make this. Soon, Disney called and asked
if I could make something that looked like Pluto. I said, yes, and so
there I am spending a lot of time studying hot
dog buns, a lot of time in front of the bread aisle,
and it turns out black olives make really good eyes. I spent a lot of
time being creepy at the supermarket studying
mushroom caps from the mushroom bin to find the perfect
eyeballs for this. [LAUGHTER] And then I was curious about
making things in one color. Now, if I had to choose one
design assignment that I think best encourages
play, I would say try making a gift
for somebody that you love with the least
cost, but the most meaning and thoughtfulness. For, me a different part
of my creativity gets unlocked when I make
something special for someone out of a genuine place. And when I say
genuine, I just mean like not for like a side
hustle or for social media, but just for the sake of
delighting another person. And these are the kinds
of design projects that you’re never going to
win an award for or like put on your portfolio, but, really,
they’re the most rewarding. It can be as simple as
just playing with paper, like the set of nested cards,
which I made for my husband. We skip birthday gifts and we
just plan a day for each other, instead. And so on each one of these
is a hint for something that I planned,
like a coffee shop to try or a new
art exhibit to see, and this idea made its
way into a craft book that I wrote with a friend
much later on, which is the photo that you see here. I sometimes make
gifts with food, again, because I’m
a crazy person. Here’s a pie that looks
like the face of someone I love, and here’s a ginormous
Pokemon Rice Krispie treat I made for my nephew. Does anyone know
what Pokemon this is? Well, I know a lot about Pokemon
because of the kids in my life, but my nephew, he was newly
dairy-free and super bummed about not having a
normal birthday cake, so I made this for him and
this definitely cheered him up. I love making things
for children’s birthdays because the end result
is always unfiltered joy. My nephews are pretty
cool kids and they always picked the weirdest party
themes, like a shadow party. Like you cannot find supplies
for a shadow party in a Party City aisle, so it requires
a little bit of creativity, but I love that. One year my nephew was
obsessed with presidents. This is definitely before Trump. So I made these party favors– a little foldout card
with each type of coin, and then a strange fact about
the presidents on each one. And it’s not every day that
you get money as a party favor, so him and his friends
were super stoked. They also got some Obama bars. Why not? Just fig bars
dressed up as Obama. Another way that I think
it’s helpful to exercise our sense of play is
to use our creativity to make meaningful,
unexpected experiences. One of my favorite
sayings, which to me applies to just
every area of life, is do small things
with great love. And that, to me, is
sort of the secret to working playfully and
creating meaningful moments. As designers, we can get
consumed by really large-scale projects that we’re working
on and what sort of reach that they’re going to
have on a large audience and success measured by metrics
and clicks and followers. And I’ve just always found
it a helpful exercise to consider how can I
make an experience that’s just meaningful
for one individual or to think about the
smaller daily moments? How can I make a mundane moment
more surprising or memorable? So my son and I have been taken
to reading books together aloud at night and we’ve been
on a Roald Dahl kick. When we finished “Charlie
and the Chocolate Factory,” I wanted to surprise
him with a movie night, and I remember that when I
read that book as a child, I just really wanted to know
the feeling of opening up a chocolate bar and
finding a golden ticket, so I wanted to do that for him. I found some leftover chocolate
from Halloween, my son’s gold origami paper, and
made this stick of it to give to him after school. And like the 15 minutes
it took to make this at the end of a work
day, it was worth it to just see his reaction,
and he still talks about it. When we finished
“Fantastic Mr. Fox,” I typed out this little
invitation and we feasted on chicken,
carrots and cider, just like the characters
did in the book, except ours was like
store-bought rotisserie chicken and dry carrot
sticks, but he still thought it was super magical. After reading “The
BFG,” I surprised him with a bottle of Frobscottle. I don’t know if you’ve read
this book, but you should. In the book, if
you’ve read it, you know this is the
giant’s favorite drink, and it’s this green
fizzy soda that causes you to fart so
strong it like sends you flying across the room. But it was amazing, just
this drop of food coloring could just elicit so
much joy and laughter. So this little ritual
between my son and me, it’s obviously a
really silly example, but it gets to this
point of using play to create special,
elevated moments, and we can practice that in
small ways with the people that we love, but
as designers, we should be thinking
about how we can create these kinds of personal,
unexpected, unforgettable moments on a bigger scale
in the work that we do. I love this book, “The Power of
Moments” by Chip and Dan Heath, if any of you have
read it, and it speaks to this importance of
creating elevated or they call it “peak” moments, and they
say that these small moments of magic, they do
not plan themselves. It’s our job to
defy the forgettable flatness of everyday
work and life and to be the designers of
moments that deliver elevation, insight, pride and connection. Children are the
ultimate experts in play. These are my two boys,
three and almost eight, and they’re basically like
my personal trainers in play. What I love about
kids is that they don’t care what you do,
what your job title is, what project you’re working
on, they just want to know, are you able to play with them? And if you’re taking
things too seriously, well, very quickly,
they’ll give you like a gentle kick in the
pants to snap you out of it and teach you how to just
chill out and to play. What I love about little kids
is their curiosity and the way that they see the world. There’s none of
this self-editing and self-consciousness and
a crippling perfectionism that we all struggle with
as adults, but instead a wildly creative and honest and
loving approach to the world. As designers, I feel
like we have a lot that we can learn from
kids, if we listen to them and invest time into them,
give them opportunities to express themselves, and bring
them alongside us in our work and even let them lead. I learned a lot about
this on a project that I just completed with
my seven-year-old son. And the book publisher,
Abrams, they reached out to me last year about creating
a really different kind of activity book set for
parents and kids to do together. And so my son saw me
working on this at home and he was really interested
in what I was doing, so I kind of let him
in on the process. First, he started brainstorming
and doing little sketches with me, then he made a bunch
of suggestions and edits. It’s kind of humbling
because he’s always right about the stuff
he was criticizing, but most importantly, he
tested out all the activities to make sure they
were fun for kids. And it helped tremendously
to see this project through his eyes, and the
book turned out so much better because he was a part of it. And I’m going to share
just a few of the spreads. This is an
introduction page that explains how my son and I worked
together like “Mad Lib” style. And what I love
about this project is that there’s one book for
a parent and one for a child, and the idea is that you’re
being creative and playing together side by side
instead of like me just handing my kid a book and
being like, go and do this, so it’s really cool. It involves drawing, writing,
learning a lot about each other through fun activities, like
a “This or That Quiz,” where you can learn about each other,
chocolate or gummies, sushi or pizza– all very, very
important questions to ask each other, or a
space to share secret fears. My son was surprised to learn
what some of those are for me. A page to remind the other
person why they’re so loved or to reflect on the
things that we’re good at and the things that
we’d like to do better. And here’s a first
look at the covers that– you guys are
the first to see these. It just put out on preorder
and it comes out in February, so I hope you’ll get a
chance to check it out or to share it with your child. It’s a project that’s
really near to my heart. Now, this is another
project that’s special to me where kids took the
lead and this book was written and
illustrated entirely by my son’s second-grade class. I just helped to put it together
to raise money for his school. So 32 seven year
olds, they were told to let their
imaginations run wild and to create any
invention they would like to see in the future. And I think you’ll be
blown away, like I was, by their creativity, their
ingenuity, and their heart. They thought of solutions
for real-world problems, like how to generate electricity
by using bouncy houses. It’s so obvious. Why did we not think of this? Putting ants to work to
bounce up and down to juice up your laptop, or fantastical
ideas of the future like designs for flying
cars or a pill to make you live forever so you can
celebrate your birthday to infinity. Devices that help
make life easier. The Tydier is a robot
that cleans your room when your mom is on your case, or a
solution for the most difficult question in the morning– what am I going to wear? This machine will help you. Some of their inventions,
they touched my heart, like this money machine
for those less fortunate, so the homeless can
insert one penny and get $100 back to buy
the things they need. [LAUGHTER] A device that senses
evil in the world and transforms it to
good with one zap. A garden where imagination
grows, so anyone who’s lacking in creativity
or joy is free to come and take as much as they need. I honestly think
Google should just give every one of these kids a job. [LAUGHTER] So now this last point, it ties
all these different aspects of play together and it’s a
final encouragement for us as designers to keep making
work that invites play. It can be something
really small, like a toy for a
child that leaves room for their
imagination, or it can be a project that invites
play on a much bigger scale. Last year, I worked on “Color
Factory” in New York City, and it was a 20,000
square foot collaborative, interactive exhibit
that encompassed all of these elements of play
that we’ve talked about here. From initial concepts
to execution, there was an intentional
and thoughtful approach that went into it, to looking,
making, giving, collaborating, working with kids and giving
them the space to create, making moments of
surprise and connection. We wanted to make a space
that would allow everyone, young and old, to play,
and this room here was one of the first
concepts that we had for the New York space. It came from the idea
that in the city, we’re constantly surrounded
by so many people and in close contact with people
on the train, in the subway, on the sidewalk,
but we’re taught to never make eye contact. So we wanted to literally force
people, sometimes strangers, to sit across from each
other and to quietly go through these series
of creative exercises that require
looking very closely at the person across
from you, often without breaking eye contact. It’s usually really
uncomfortable. I mean, when we first came up
with this, everyone was like, that’s the worst idea! Everyone’s going to hate it! But in the end there’s almost
always a burst of laughter that’s shared at the
end of this exercise, and those two people make
an unexpected connection. The idea of making
and giving was at the core of what we wanted
to do at “Color Factory,” so everyone who stops
by the location, even those without a ticket,
can get this map for free, and it leads to small,
colorful experiences that were hidden throughout the city. They’re meant to be moments of
surprise, places to discover, things that we designed for
people to be delighted by. One stop is a corner magazine
stand and behind the cashier, you can look for a
very different kind of lotto ticket– different than all the
other scratch and win cards, but ours guarantees
a win every day, seven prompts to make you
feel like a million bucks. Another stop takes
you to an ATM that looks like any other old
ATM, except this one doesn’t give cash. Instead when you punch
in the secret pin, it spits out a piece of art. And actually the two people
who put this together are right here, so you
can talk to them after. Or from the first map that
was here in San Francisco, one of the stops led to
a neglected staircase in a Chinatown alley, which we
transformed into a love letter to the neighborhood, a colorful
homage to the comfort foods that my family
taught me to love. And I just want to end by
sharing something that, hopefully, sums
up the reward that comes from designing for play. Last year, my mom came
to visit me in New York and she had never been
to “Color Factory” in San Francisco or New
York, and so I brought her through the space, and
it was something special to see her genuinely surprised
and delighted at every turn. And halfway through, she did
something that I had never seen her do before. Most of my childhood memories
are of her working really hard and taking really
good care of us, but I cannot remember a single
time where I saw her just like letting loose and dancing,
so this meant a lot to me. [MUSIC – HALL & OATES, “KISS ON MY LIST”] [LAUGHTER] Oh, god, but this moment– this to me, it settles
the misconception and this internal conflict that
we sometimes feel as designers that if we want to
be taken seriously, we have to make really
serious and solemn work. But thank goodness for
moments of pure joy like this to remind me that
no matter how much life is stressful or life tries
to wring play out of you, even if we have too many
deadlines and too little time, that we should never take
ourselves so seriously that we forget to make our work play. Thank you so much. [APPLAUSE] SARAH WILSON: Thank you,
Erin, for such a great talk. This is so wonderful. We have time for questions,
so if anyone has a question, I can pass the mic on. AUDIENCE: Hi. Thank you for the
amazing talk, I think it was just what I
actually needed to hear, too. ERIN JANG: Well, good. AUDIENCE: I think
when it comes to play, there is this idea of
spontaneous-y and then– but I think there’s also,
for me, a risk of not being able to become a thing. So if we have a
project and a deadline and we want to bring
in the play mindset– but then I think as a designer,
we have this like perfectionism and wanting to make it to a
fidelity that is presentable, but often time, play
makes me feel like, what if I won’t get there in time? What if this doesn’t– it doesn’t guarantee any
way that it will work out. ERIN JANG: Yeah. AUDIENCE: So, yeah. ERIN JANG: I mean, I
think about my kids, actually, all the
time when I’m thinking of that, because
we think of play as just so free and
spontaneous, just forget all responsibilities,
but if you watch my son building something, like 90% of it,
he’s like super frustrated because he’s like building
this thing with magnets and it’s like, oh,
it’s so precarious, and it just like all
comes crashing down, and I have to remind him,
don’t be discouraged. Keep going. Try to figure it out. And, I mean, it’s
honestly like trying to preach to myself
because I’m the same way. I get really discouraged
and there’s not enough time. But to that point of not
wanting to risk doing something because it won’t end up
getting published or used, I think that’s a
mindset of that’s that self-editing
that we do a lot, and it kind of
doesn’t lead anywhere. I feel like that’s part of– I think, with creative jobs, we
have to just take risks and do stuff and, yeah,
90% of the time, it’s not going to be the
thing that’s published. But I guarantee you
all those things that you’ve practiced
and done, those will get used later on
for some other project. And that’s how I’d
like to think about it, that those ideas and
the things that I tried are not going to get wasted. They’ll always come
back and they’re always going to find some other
life in another project. Yeah. AUDIENCE: Really inspiring
to see your work. Where do you get ideas
for playful projects, like the food one
and the kind of thing for people who have a hard time,
let’s say, thinking creatively? Where do you get inspiration to
do playful stuff or projects? ERIN JANG: I don’t know. It’s kind of like what
I was talking about. A lot of these things are– I think it always just goes
back to people and relationships and you see this on
Instagram all the time, right, people are like, oh, I’m
doing this cool side project, and they’re literally just
doing it for the likes and trying to mimic something
that someone else is doing, and there’s no soul to it
because it’s literally a form, you’re just doing a form. But I feel like things that
are made with the heart of just doing it for one person,
like I was talking about, it’s all about the
relationships and when you care about a person,
you will make stuff with that intention. I mean, Charles Eames,
he used to always talk about design as hospitality,
and I love that concept, right? You’re not just like
making something because you want to
make it and be creative, but it’s this hospitality of
how can design meet a need? As a good host, how
can I anticipate the needs of my guest? And so design is sort
of in the same way. We’re thinking in
relationships with people, designing for one
person, and usually when you’re designing
for one person, that will touch the heart of
so many other people. But yeah, I don’t know. I’m just a weird person. I like playing with food. I’m basically a big child. That’s the secret. You just have to
be like a big kid. I think that’s it. SARAH WILSON: Yeah, let’s
give it up for Erin. Erin Jang. Thank you, everyone,
for coming out tonight. One note, if you
have a guest badge, if you could return
it to the front that would be greatly appreciated. Dylan has a bucket. She has been waiting. Yeah, and we’ll be
back next month. Yeah, let’s give it up for Erin. ERIN JANG: Thank you so much. [MUSIC PLAYING]

5 thoughts on “Design Is [Play] — Making Work Play / Making Play Work

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *