On Discovered Values
I feel very grateful that I chose to work and grow in a creative field that allows me to express myself and communicate the things I care about. While I do acknowledge that not all of my work will be an expression of my core values as a person, it is important for us, as designers, to acknowledge and incorporate our morals in our work.
Whether this set of values came with personal development or are communicated by your professors, each school, company and designer has it’s philosophy. People talk about values all the time. When I was a teenager I used to justify my great bonds of friendship to my mother by saying “we just have the same values”. Naturally, I had no ideas what my values were! I knew values were the body of principles and standards that one prioritized but was utterly unable to pin point any of mine.
We are lucky enough as designers to have the skills and abilities to transform our thoughts and theories into visual and tangible products that can be communicated and consumed at large. In the hope that most designers are people of integrity, if we stress what we care about in our work we have the power to tackle serious issues and induce great change. Whether or not we will be able slow down global warming, corruption or inequality is highly questionable, but it’s certainly worth a shot.
What I did, this past year, is write down my five core values as a person. As hard as it is to narrow it down to five of them, it’s more realistic to have less and stick to them with more conviction. The values I’d like to carry forward in relationships, career and decisions are the following: authenticity, balance, autonomy, optimism and loyalty. Although some of these may be more relevant to my life outside of design, knowing what you care about is helpful in producing meaningful work.
Let me explain how some of these values are present in my work. My capstone project was triggered by a very specific food-related memory from my childhood in France. I reached out to different people from all over the world regarding their own food-centered memories and asked them to translate these mental images into short stories. I then proceeded to recreate all these dishes that they’d richly described, in my ill-equipped Boston apartment. The dishes were then photographed and juxtaposed to their narratives. The authenticity of their deeply rooted memory coupled with the limited means but great sincerity of my cooking made for an authentic work of design.