Design, What's Up
September 24, 2012
Ayse Birsel sees herself as a designer of life. “Design is imagination, and if you can imagine something you can make it happen,” she believes. “If I design my life, maybe I can build more coherence and align myself with my values.”
Coherence and alignment, along with innovation and problem solving, are all attributes of Birsel’s work. Her secret? Deconstructing preconceptions (both hers and those of others) in order to see things from a fresh perspective. When she reflects on her life, Birsel applies much the same technique—because, like design, a good life is a harmony of what you want and what you need. When the two are in balance, the results can break new ground.
Learn more about Ayse Birsel’s approach to designing life on Why Design, a new video series featuring designers from Herman Miller’s creative network. There are eight videos in total, with a new one debuting every Monday. Stay Tuned; next week is designer Irving Harper.
November 21, 2011
George Nelson said, “The aim of the design process is always to produce an object that does something,” and what the umbrella does is protect.
People have been shielding themselves from sun and rain for centuries underneath the umbrella’s curved contour⎯an ingenious design with multiple applications, including Nelson’s fiberglass parasols at the 1959 American National Exhibition in Moscow.
As exhibition design director, Nelson’s structure covered exhibits, including Edward Steichen’s “Family of Man” photography collection. Charles and Ray Eames also took part, displaying their film “Glimpses of the USA” on multiple screens showing basic aspects of American life. Additionally, Herman Miller Modern Classics⎯before they were classics⎯showcased as leading innovations in American home furnishings.
Fifty years later, the umbrella’s shape made its way inside, providing shade for computer screens. Designer, Ayse Birsel, compares her Resolve canopy to “a parasol on a beach.” And her umbrella does more than block overhead glare, “It defines your territory and augments your sense of space.”
Resolve creates open, inviting, space-efficient workstations where people feel comfortable and connected. When underneath the umbrella-like Resolve canopy, there’s “a very tangible sense of one’s own space without the use of walls,” as Birsel put it.
June 28, 2011
A sketch by Ayse Birsel from Design the Life You Love. Photo: birselplusseck.com
We’re all designers, busy designing our own lives. Powerful stuff but sounds a bit cliché, doesn’t it? Designing Is About the Decisions You Make Every Day, a recent article on Fastcompany.com, got me thinking, and before I knew it, the questions were popping up.
The problem is that design has become a fantastical buzzword invoked to change the world, heal your woes, and make your life easier. But if you were to ask people on the street the meaning of design, you would receive a new defintion with each person you stopped. And, too often, design is associated with aethistics. And even if you throw function into the mix, what difference does it make? Does advocating a designed life equate to filling your life with good-looking, functional widgets? Is that how design can make your life better?
The key is to divorce design from any assocation with consumption, which is exactly the direction Ayse Birsel takes in Design the Life You Love, a recent project challenging us to stop and “think about [our lives] for a moment.” Conceived as a recipe, Birsel proposes a simple and thought-provoking way of examining the complexity of your life and to ask what’s next. It’s so simple, in fact, you could do it over a cup of coffee.
Birsel recoginizes that design, at its essence, is decision-making—and good design means good decisions—whether that manifests itself as a cool product, choosing to riding your bike to work, or deciding to go back to school—you’re designing your life when you make a thoughtful decision about what is right for you and for your life. And that doesn’t sound like a cliché.
October 5, 2009
Designers Ayse Birsel and Bibi Seck of birsel+seck in New York think and communicate in sketches. “Our language is drawing,” says Ayse. “Sometimes we stay ‘en quarantaine’ in the room and we do some drawing together to exchange our ideas.”
July 29, 2009
“The starting point of Teneo,” say designers Ayse Birsel and Bibi Seck, “was challenging the storage archetype and saying, ‘Well, why can’t we do this any other way?’” They answered their question by looking at storage from an entirely new perspective. This year, Teneo storage furniture earned the coveted Gold award from the International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) in the Office and Productivity category.