New role model: John Maeda
So I’ve tried for several months (arguably years) to figure out my career path and determine if my choices toward user experience and interaction design have been the right ones. Unfortunately, I’ve been labeled a ‘developer’ by people who work with me, which loosely translates into ‘you should code and only figure out ways to code better...nothing more, nothing less’. This is particularly disheartening because I’m a creative person atomically (ex. jazz musician, graphic designer, etc.) who understands the dry / boring logic that can make things work. I’ve designed many things in my life and I enjoy the creative process of concepting and prototyping. As such, I’ve always tried to be more of an interdisciplinarian that wants to smooth the boundaries between design and development. Most people believe that designers can’t code and developers can’t design, which I think is a bold faced lie....
Anyway, I took a chance with Amazon.com and decided to buy a book entitled The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda. I’m still reading the book (very impressed so far), but what struck me was the path(s) that Meada took throughout his career and how they make sense . He is currently the President of Rhode Island School of Design which is impressive by itself, but what is more impressive is his interdisciplinary background. Maeda completed his undergraduate and master degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering @ MIT, received a Ph.D. in design from the University of Tsukuba Institute of Art and Design in Japan, AND received an MBA from Arizona State University. On the back sleeve of The Laws of Simplicity, Maeda is described as a ‘graphic designer, visual artist, and computer scientist’ and its well deserved.
The irony of all this is that I found myself plotting a course for the same destination as Maeda before I started reading The Laws of Simplicity. I have two associate degrees (Math and Computer Science), an undergraduate degree in web technologies, and I’m currently in a MS program for Human Computer Interaction. I started scouting MBA programs about 2 weeks ago to gain mastery of the business side of design and development. I may have stumbled across an individual who is living proof that design and science can coexist successfully.
I intend to continue reading Maeda’s books + posts and hopefully I can pose questions to him someday to find out if I’m crazy or not. But for now, he is a role model for me and reminds me that there is a larger scale purpose that will soon be made clear in the future to all those who are constantly confused by the smaller thoughts in the present.
Follow John Maeda on Twitter: @johnmaeda
Visit John Maeda's Blog: http://our.risd.edu/