The Effective and Empathetic Designer: Professional Identity as a Function of Self-Definition
A thread woven through my graduate education was that the role of the designer in society is rapidly changing as the world’s needs and consciousness evolve. Wrestling with my own identity as a designer eager to contribute, improve, and delight, I looked outside of the world of design. The Family Systems Theory developed by Murray Bowen offered a language and practice that is helpful for anyone caught in the uncertain and nebulous world of design. Using the Eight Concepts of his theory, I explored my own history in order to better self-differentiate—the core movement of Family Systems Theory. By understanding the source of our own values and the complex, overlapping systems we’re constantly a part of, anxiety is reduced, allowing for more creative and divergent thinking. When designers are able to do the work of self-exploration and analysis of their relationships, they’re better positioned to create empathetically, out of their own deep-seated values and principles.
Drawing inspiration for intricate patterns and forms found in nature, I created a high-resolution scan of my handprint and mapped 100 numbers along its topography. Corresponding to those numbers are scientific slides each containing specimens of living organisms with snippets of my personal history overlaid. The phrases on each of the slides are life events, family stories, snippets from family memoirs, and my own diaries.