the online
portfolio
of designer

www.BEN JOHN SMITH.com

MY APPROACH TO DESIGN

Design is frustrating, tedious, impossible to perfect, and never finished. So why would anyone want to spend their entire life doing it?

The first time you hear about the world and culture of Design, you're bound to hear something important that can change your perspective about the world forever: "Everything is Designed." Once you start looking at the world through that lens you suddenly see how much bad design is out there, from the information and wayfinding systems, to advertisements, products, interactive spaces — quite literally everything.

By taking this perspective further, it becomes difficult to ignore the effect that these design decisions (or lack thereof) have on human behavior. People get lost, confused, angry, and exhausted by these decisions every day, and many people even blame themselves for the problems they encounter!

The next logical step down this vein of thought is to imagine what our lives might be like — our day-by-day, year-by-year actions and interactions — if this plague of bad design were eradicated. What would happen if you didn't ever struggle to understand a new product or piece of software? What if you always found where you needed to go with no problems? What if there was no such thing as uncomfortable furniture? Or inconvenient obligations?

How many negative emotions do we experience daily due to the poor decisions made by those in control?

It's all within the power of the designer to make changes for the better, and I think we all have a certain degree of interest in making things easier, more enjoyable, and more efficient for ourselves and others. The people who actively pursue this challenge — despite its abstract difficulty and (at times) relentless banality — often call themselves designers.

We need good design and usually we don't even realize it. The world needs more designers. This is why I have to design.

WHAT I'M INTO

I'm a nerd

My brother and I grew up playing video games, Dungeons & Dragons, and trading Star Wars cards. My dad also had the tendency to bring home interesting gadgets like our first 21 MHz computer running Windows 3.1, among other things.

So as a result I love computers and gadgets — anything to do with the latest technology. As a side-effect I also really enjoy learning about the natural world and the miracles of science. Nerdy is the new cool (trust me).

I was raised in the outdoors of the Northwest

My dad has been taking me camping / mountain-climbing / mountain-biking / hiking / rock-climbing nearly every other weekend since I was old enough to walk. While I was always resistant as a youngster: "But Daaaad! I wanna stay here this weekend and hang out with my friends!" the residual effect of these experiences lingers and I still try to enjoy many of them as often as I can.

Seattle is a great city for these types of things, despite it being the biggest urban sprawl in the area

I thrive on social contact

I live in a big city because I need the buzzing of activity happening all around me. Culture and diversity have always been important aspects of my life, as I was raised in a city that was rich with it, and went to school where it was highly valued.

As an interaction designer, I find it very difficult to finish projects without having someone around to bounce my ideas off of, and so I keep myself surrounded by them constantly. Meeting new people and making connections has always been and will continue to be a priority for me.

LATELY

MONDAY 03.26.2012

I just got back from Germany and began school once again at UW, for my final quarter (3 months) before graduation.

Coincidentally, I turned 24 today as well, and am pretty excited to make my 24th year my most exciting (so far) for my design career and future.

SUNDAY 10.16.2011

The new website design is up and running. I'm sure that in another 3 months I'm going to be sick of it enough to force another redesign. Let's hope this one lasts a little longer than the others.

For a laugh, check out the past designs (some stuff might be broken due to file structure rearrangement).

07.2011 — too boring
01.2011 — too slow
10.2010 — too red
04.2010 — too dark

MONDAY 09.26.2011

Getting on a plane to Germany to study Interaktionsgestaltung (Interaction Design) at Hochschule für Gestaltung in Schwäbisch Gmünd (a city in the South — West of Munich).

I'm keeping a blog to keep track of my experiences while I'm there (hey, it's not that boring — there are pictures!) so check it out.