I was gifted "Let my people go surfing" by Yvon Chouinard recently. I was unaware the book existed but happy to have a copy. With all books we take what we need in that particular moment. This book is insightful for my fascination with principles and philosophies that help guide brands, and product development. I knew about the Yvon and Patagonia but not intimately. After watching "180 south" I've been an admirer of his business ideas and passion for adventure. This book was written to be a philosophical manual for employees of Patagonia, but carries an autobiographical vibe. His lifestyle inevitably informs products made by Patagonia. It's been translated into ten different languages and debated on in high schools, colleges and large corporations.
Lately I've been thinking deeply about my craft. As a principal designer, my role in design has drastically change in the past years. I went from being exceedingly hands-on in my work to being hands-off and brains on. I now realized how vital a good lead is to the process. They are there to inject direction, design principles, and brand ideas. Allowing juniors and seniors to have the foundation to work upon. That way they can focus on improving their technical and execution skills. As I've gone through the same path, I'm sadden to be less physical and more methodical in the design process. But before a beautiful and, tangible product is made. I now recognize there needs to be clear and concise guiding principles that are defined.
Twenty-one pages in I spot a gem. It resonates with me deeply in this moment. Yvon relies on this principle leading his company on a rough but successful place. I'll share it with you here:
What did you take from that? I perceive good craft and design begins with strong, clear, and precise guiding principles. Here Yvon is inspired by principles from the French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Antoine says "perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when their is no longer anything to take away..." In ways it's similar to Dieter Rams "10 Principle of Design." He states "Good design is as little design as Possible." Less, but better-- because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with the non-essentials. In the book Yvon applies this thinking in building his products. Think of good principles as a moral compass. What are your principles in design? or career?