The Lightbulb Moment
One of my favorite parts of the "why design?" question is listening to people talk about the moment that design just clicked for them. Sometimes it's because they got thrown into the job from an advertising stand point, others grew up in art and design based household and environment, but my favorite is moments of self-discovery. Self-discovery through a moment or item excited and interested an individual in exploring more in the world of design; I relate to these people because that's exactly how I found my interest in design.
Have you ever bought something with packaging design that is simply a work of art? Something so god damn beautiful that you barely want to touch it. This something for me was Portugal. The Man's Satanic Satanist. While wrapped in the standard clear cd wrap on the retail shelf, I had no idea that this cd's design was going to blow my fucking mind –– but it did. Once I started to pull back the layers of the front cover, I began to realize that this was more than just a regular CD for $10.95. This was more like a jigsaw puzzle compiled of several layers, that forced you to explore every inch of the packaging just to find the CD. It was weird at first, but yet pretty exciting too. It felt like a story, with an unknown narrative, that was 100% open to interpretation, and that would change as you rearranged the layers of the die cut. It just felt so damn thoughtful, and special. Though it was just a mass produced item like any other album on the shelf, it felt like it didn't belong (in a good way). It clearly felt like it belonged on a whole other level than any other album in that store.
Little did I know at the time that this little CD spoiled me. It made every other CD that I bought from then on feel cheap, thoughtless and a little lazy... "the standard CD" design just seemed stupid and a waste after having such an experience. It lacked character and anything that would make these standard CDs feel special. No wonder MP3's took over so easily.
Honestly, with hindsight, I call that moment eight years ago, the origin for my real interests in design. It forced me to start developing a taste for design, despite even knowing it thanks to my naive mind. It forced me to start to call out and recognize bullshit and lazy design and encouraged me to start looking for something better than simply the default.