Jason VanLue)

Three Pipe Problems

DATE: 04.01.13 • READING TIME: 2min

"As a rule,” said Holmes, “the more bizarre a thing is the less mysterious it proves to be. “What are you going to do, then?” I asked. “To smoke,” he answered. “It is quite a three pipe problem, and I beg that you won’t speak to me for fifty minutes.”

The world is full of Three Pipe Problems, many of which can be solved through design. At its core, design is finding a better way to do something. 'Why?' should be the mantra of every designer. And 'why not?'. Design can and does make a difference.

Keep in mind the problems you're solving don't have to be large. They just have to be human problems. The difference you're making might be for 10 users or 10 million. Dieter Rams says "You cannot understand good design if you do not understand people; design is made for people."

Design for the people on the other side of the screen. Solve their problems. Make things that they will love.  It doesn't have to be complicated, it just has to be for people.

If your product reaches people, it needs design. Rams says "The times of thoughtless design, which can only flourish in times of thoughtless production for thoughtless consumption, are over. We cannot afford any more thoughtlessness." 

Wilson Miner says, "the things you and i make may not make a visible footprint on the earth. what do we want to spend more time with. what do we want to shape us. what do we want to see grow." I would add to that, what problems do you want to solve?

And I mean real problems. You know what's not a real problem? The Brooklyn Nets brand identity. Or a redesign of the Facebook interface. Or weather apps.

I'm not against the doing of those things, if it's for practice, or for fun, or for burning off excess creative steam. But I bet you there were hundreds of scientists making stuff explode while Louis Pasteur discovered how to make milk safe.

There are real problems to be solved in this world. Three Pipe problems. Design can solve these problems. We're designers, which means we get the opportunity…the privilege to solve them. What are we doing with that opportunity?

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