Wilson Minor – When We Build


Speech: https://vimeo.com/34017777

Reflection on Speech & my Interpretations.

After watching a very interesting speech by Wilson Minor it has created more depth and altered my perspectives on screens, design and how we interact with these tools.  It makes you think twice when getting frustrated and thinking “It’s just a website”, it’s more than just a website, it’s an environment what will change and morph our future. Throughout the speech he commonly compares native talents to advanced technology creating this binary opposition. This creates meaning of his main goal – simplicity and simple design.

He talks about materialistic tools such as cars and furniture. These tools are more than just empty vessels to drive us around and sit us down. They’re empty vessels which we can fill up with our stories reflecting our best desires, hopes and images of ourselves, quoting, “We shape our tools and then after our tools shape us” – Marshall McLuhan. This quote means that new tools/mediums creates a new experience/environment and alters the course of society in its perception, outlook and representation, changing not only the present but the future and creating almost like a domino effect. It also goes to show that without a being consciously present, these environment would be nothing. He goes onto explain prime examples of this such as a lightbulb. Before the lightbulb days were short, meaning less days to work, function and interact. Another great example he quotes is from Steve Jobs about computers, describing them as a “bicycle for our minds” with Wilson calling them a “bionic extension for human abilities” this analysis on human achievement reconfirms the ‘What you behold is what you become’ narrative. Job’s bicycle analogy illustrated the ability of a human invention to amplify the power of the human brain.

Further into the speech Wilson talks more of the timeline of design. In the 20th century, a revolutionary leap was made and that was the car, in the 21st century the new revolutionary leap was in the screen, he explains that what goes on them screens is even more important. This is commonly important as quoting Wilson, “We’re not just making pretty interfaces, we’re in the process of building an environment where we’ll spend most of our life for the rest of our life” This is absolutely true, although this speech was made almost a decade ago, it has never been more relevant as screens are cropping up everywhere from watches, billboards and even glasses. What we make on these screens now will shape our reality and environment for the future.

Wilson talks about the core of design, and removing fundamental knowledge and making assumptions “As designers we’re constantly making assumptions” “such as underling text can be clicked on”. For designers this means that we need to be held responsible in thinking what our customers abilities are and what we assume we know from them. As we enter the new age the pace of technology is rapidly increasing giving us less time to adjust therefore time is more valuable. The assumptions need to be clear and coherent – avoid complicated structures. This rapidly changing environment requires us to be always learning and ready to accept change. Wilson talks about a brilliant methodology named the ‘don’t know mind’ derived from ancient Buddhism which in order to see the truth of something one must clear their mind and look upon it without any altering external forces.  This is especially true for cosmetic design.

The next part in Wilson’s speech he talks more about design itself and the experience/environment which surrounds it. He also talks about as designers we must have the ability to adjust to an environment and make it unique by using what is there, this is essential for us designers as we must adapt to the many programs, applications, devices, etc. out there. We have no control over what the newest application is going to be published on or with so we have to be prepared, engaged and adaptive. As designers our responsiveness must be always willing to listen to the changing environment. He ends the speech about the future and the expectation of designers that what we make now should last until future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.