Grad Application Writing

Great design is a mirror that teaches and inspires us to become our best selves.

As an undergraduate graphic design student at Art Center College of Design, working on idealist projects such as voice activated typography for children, and environmentally friendly alternatives to reworks, my belief has always been that design is to make the world a better place.

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For a while that purpose became forgotten, as I ventured into the industry after graduation. A short while after leaving school, I found a job as a UI/UX designer at a startup. It was a cozy two years growing with the company. I was comfortable, but not fulfillled: how was designing another app to sell things helping people? After awhile I began to wonder what I was doing with my life.

Then, my grandmother died. I was heartbroken.

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Grandmother raised me, and taught me to care about others. However, I did not see myself making her proud.

From that day on, I began questioning again what my function was, as a designer, and made a promise to spend my life helping people.

Design is more than drawings on a page; it begins with people. Shortly after I quit my job,
I volunteered at a nearby hospital while taking industrial design classes, to keep myself from forgetting my purpose and to be close to people that I want to help.

This experience greatly shaped my sensibilities; after spending hours wheeling around patients and having conversations with them, I became more aware of not only their physical demands, but also their emotional needs as well.

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Designers have such power. We can persuade and in uence, we can invent and innovate. WIth this power to change the world, designers have

such a burden and responsibility. Our decisions ripple throughout the world, affecting the human condition. Now with the invention of new technol- ogies such as arti cial intelligence, internet of things, biotechnology, and robotics, this respon- sibility increases greatly.

However, raw skills learned are not enough to design the appropriate things. The past thirty years, the creative world has experienced a horizontal inflation that has affected the value of skills as technology has progressed. When I had mentioned this to instructors, their answer had always been simply to become more “transdisciplinary” to stay relevant to the market.

Is it really enough to seek solutions through being business savvy? Finding ways to make people’s money should not de ne “good” design. Beyond what is desirable or pro table, are sustainable products that improve society as a whole.

This path I take involves more than learning skills and techniques; it involves honing my sen- sibilities as a designer and maturing my vision — to not only design products well, but to design the right products within our increasingly complex society.

I quit my job as a UX designer because I believe I can make more of a positive difference as an industrial designer. Friends, family, and teachers have questioned why I would give up a lucrative career, and drain my bank account to self-study for over a year. It is because I believe I can do better, and am not willing to give up on my ideals — that design can, and should make the world a better place.

Brian XiaoComment