Category Archives: Perspective

Reflections and inspiration pieces

Going Public about Failure: 5 Designers Share Life-Changing Mistakes

Going Public about Failure: 5 Designers Share Life-Changing Mistakes

Earlier this week, I wrote about the concept of “fail fast” and how it is being championed in organizations around the world. If you’re not familiar with it, fail fast is about making small mistakes and responding quickly with new iterations and changes while working towards a bigger goal. It’s the antithesis of holing up to create something in isolation and then present it to the world expecting everything to go well.

Companies that create products, like Dyson vacuums, to those that provide consulting, like PwC, use this method with success. By instilling it within the culture of their organization, it allows employees to practice and learn along the way, and in turn produce positive results for their customers and clients.

But what happens when, despite your best efforts and intentions, you still fail big?

How do you recover and overcome a huge mistake? For many of us, our loved ones and confidants receive the brunt of our crushing blows. They stand beside us, helping us through the agony. They create a safe place where we learn to retell the story in a “constructive” way.

Here’s a challenge to that: what if you just said, “I fucked up?”

And, to take it one step further, what if you told this to colleagues, peers, and even complete strangers?

Five well-known designers just did this.

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How do you act when confronted with challenge?


Yesterday I was flooded with a huge range of emotions. Absorbed in the results of the US election, what I felt was akin to loss and grief. Throughout the day, I bounced between shock, denial, anger, depression, acceptance, and hope.

It was unexpectedly paralyzing and debilitating. The day was reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina’s strike along the southern US when I was in pure shock from an outcome I was not fully prepared to accept. However, the range of emotions I felt then and yesterday were an aid to help me process thoughts on what it meant for me, my work, my beliefs, my values, and the future I want to see happen.Continue Reading

Why I am a Social Impact Designer


After six months on maternity leave, I took some time to review my career and discover what I want to do next. To kickstart the next chapter, I wanted to share a longer version of my journey into social impact design and why this site was created. I hope you enjoy and feel inspired to share your story with me! Let’s get reading…

Leaving my small California hometown at the age of 18 was my first big solo adventure. I chose to study architecture at Tulane for three reasons:

  1. I was able to receive a masters degree in five years, as opposed to the typical 7-9 year route (yes, I like to be efficient with time ;]);
  2. the university attracted students from all over the US;
  3. and the city of New Orleans was unlike anywhere I had been before.

Deep down, though, it gave me an opportunity to explore the potential in myself in a place 2,000 miles from where I grew up surrounded by new people.

During the first four years at Tulane, I had grown tremendously as a person. I had been exposed to so many new things: food, people, thinking, culture, music, and the Big Easy lifestyle. It wasn’t always easy—I missed my family, friends, and the comforts of California that I grew to miss. But as I entered the summer of 2005 ready to work on my master’s thesis, I vividly remember the feeling of independence, confidence, and possibility. All I had left was one year of research, writing, designing, and presenting the project I selected—and then I’d be off into the world to become an architect.

But that plan fell apart August 27th, 2005.Continue Reading

Are You Really Behind?


The months are flying by. You look up at the calendar and ask yourself, “Where did the time go? Has it really been that long?”

That’s what I asked myself when I looked at the date of the most recent post here on Design Affects. November 3rd? Sheesh.Continue Reading

The Human Side of Creativity, Writing, and Designing


After twenty-six hours of travel that entailed two 10+ hour-long flights, a train ride, a tube ride, and four blocks of tugging a suitcase, I found myself sitting on my sofa in London with eyes at half mast. My to-do list was as long as ever yet my eyes could nearly stay open. Sitting in a dark flat 9,000 miles away and seven time zones ahead, my husband reminded me of something important. “You can’t do it all. You need sleep,” he told me. “Start tomorrow refreshed. You’ll feel better.”

Ten years ago, pushing through all-nighters–and sometimes multiple days–constantly awake and (somehow) designing and creating was no problem. My younger self had an insatiable drive to match my peers’ willingness to work despite all indications for sleep. All nighters are a thing of the past for me, now, but the desire to fill my to-do list and calendar still prevails.Continue Reading