V is for Vision

V is for Vision

If you don’t have a vision, why design, or date? Far too many people go about relationships and design without actively constructing a vision for the future. Perhaps this is because visioning is difficult work. You have to imagine the unknown, and decide what is truly important to you, or your client. Vision is about ...

U is for Unconscious Competence

U is for Unconscious Competence

Designer Paula Scher says she drew the logo for Citibank within five minutes of hearing the design brief. With decades of experience in creating and observing, she knows what she knows and she can apply it with ease. Scher’s design intuition could be called “Unconscious Competence”: the final stage of the “Four Stages of Competence” ...

T is for Template

T is for Template

A template can be a guide, pattern, stencil, mould, or protocol. It is a set of instructions or shapes that can be repeated, whether by human or computer. In both dating and design, templates are tempting because they make things easier. They give us less choice and tell us how to repeat our actions, producing ...

S is for Synthesis

S is for Synthesis

Design as a process is pure synthesis. Designers are constantly connecting the dots, and combining previously un-related ideas or materials into new forms, or new stories. The synthesis of two people in a relationship is a process of combining two entire systems of pre-defined patterns (no wonder it’s difficult!). As we develop a new relationship, ...

R is for Redesign

R is for Redesign

As our relationships and our businesses shift and grow over time, they occasionally require some redesign. Some of the most successful brands are the ones who have altered their visual appearance and their story over time just subtly enough to keep pace with consumer demands and changing tastes. Similarly, the most successful relationships are also ...

Q is for Qualitative and Quantitative

Q is for Qualitative and Quantitative

“Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.” – Albert Einstein In relationships, it’s easy to judge our partners on quantifiable measures. It’s also easy to produce designs based solely on existing, quantifiable demographics and client requirements. That’s fine if you want a relationship or product that ...

P is for Post-its

P is for Post-its

An iconic symbol of the designer’s studio, the post-it comes in handy for collaborative thinking exercises. Post-its can help both designers and couples share brain-space in a physical way. Researchers call this thinking-through-doing “extended cognition” and it plays a crucial role in problem solving. Unfortunately, most couples discuss important issues in bed or at the ...

O is for Opposable

O is for Opposable

Opposability is the ability to resist or oppose. It refers to a productive tension on two or more points, paradoxically making room for increased flexibility. A great designer has often developed an “opposable mind,” able to “hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” –Author Roger ...

N is for Nostalgia

N is for Nostalgia

“I’m convinced that without bad design [or bad lovers] … we would have nothing to marvel over and nothing to be nostalgic about.” –Carrie Phillips The word “Nostalgia” comes from the root “alga” (unbearable anguish and pain) and “nostos” (coming home after a long journey). It is this direct opposition of emotions that makes nostalgia ...

M is for Mental Models

M is for Mental Models

Mental models represent the way we habitually think about and take action in our lives. It wouldn’t be very useful if we were always thinking about everything and everyone in the universe, so the mind filters and stores only what’s important to us. With this knowledge, we construct mini “models” of life-scale events to help ...