Design is everywhere around us. From the external look of a thing to the feeling we have when using it – there is a story behind why things are the way they are.
Have you ever thought about unconventional ways of designing things to the point they seem absurd or even ugly?
In the last ten years, we have more or less achieved a visual standardization of the web, which made our communication and interactions more predictable and thus, more effective. This is visible in the buttons, the headers, the illustrations, the copy, and the layouts. All brand in a slightly different style but still looking extremely consistent and recognizable from one platform to the other. UX today is taking the form of a global visual language!
Yet, the pursuit of consistency, although it usually ends up in a result that is widely accepted, does not help us to create an ‘honest’ relationship with the end-user and thus a memorable (User) Experience.
The scope of this talk is to remind the audience how absurdity can please our brain, tapping not in our need to recognize patterns, but in our innate drive to discover new things and be surprised. In this lecture, we started from the philosophical and artistic background of Absurdism and study examples from web design, art, and pop culture to derive conceptual frameworks to push the limits of our own design work.
We were delighted on March 4th, 2021 to hold a webinar on Absurd design with Vienna-based UX designer Angeliki Ageletou.
By Csongor G. Szigeti, David Fucsku
Angeliki Angeletou holds a diploma in electrical engineering and a professional doctorate in interaction design. She has worked in UX research for products ranging from Surround Sound Systems to eHealth and Smart Home platforms. She currently works as a Product Owner and UX designer on the mobile app of ToolSense, an IoT startup, and for her own business on other freelance UX projects together with her sister. She often gives information design workshops and lectures on design topics to research institutes from different scientific domains, universities, and conferences.
Brainster: Hi Angeliki, welcome to the Brainster Blog. On March 4th, 2021 we host a webinar, with you as a guest lecturer! Why should design aficionados take a peek at this webinar?
This class is a deeply personal work; I was curious about the absurd illustrations I had collected on a Pinterest board and I fell down the rabbit hole, collecting and reading more about the “Absurd” in every design and art form, trying to explain how it works. You should have a look: if you are into UX/UI, you will become aware of the box we, designers operate in and maybe feel motivated enough to break it! If you are into marketing, you might get some new conceptual tools to connect with your audience. But this is a lecture also for illustrators and visual arts aficionados as we are studying the emotional impact of visuals.
Brainster: What’s your opinion on a career change to the UX design field? Is this possible after having a different bachelor’s degree, or professional experience in another field?
Yes, of course. I have met excellent UX designers from very different backgrounds, most notably an animal behaviour expert and a lady with tourism management experience.
Brainster: What is your favourite design trend at the moment?
I don’t study trends. I study what ignites my interest and right now, I am fascinated by the Bauhaus! I am following it from its first manifesto written by its lead, the architect Walter Gropius, through its many turns and moves to its forceful ending by the Nazis and I am impressed with all the ways the Bauhaus masters and students found ways to innovate. From typography to tubular steel chair designs are produced even to this day. My next lecture will likely be about all the inspiration and lessons I got from studying it.
Brainster: Do you prefer working on smaller projects or products? Why?
I like products, but in fact, every assignment I ever had was for a product of some sort. Everything can be seen as a product. I think the most important is to believe in the concept of what it is that you are building. To stand behind its mission. Like Mike Monteiro says:
“The world isn’t broken. It’s working exactly as it was designed to work. And we’re the ones who designed it. Which means we fucked up.”
― Mike Monteiro, Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It
Brainster: What are some personal traits that someone should possess in order to thrive as a UX designer?
Being a great communicator; loving visual problem solving and having a reason behind each visual choice; thinking lean; reading a lot on diverse topics; being able to understand every stakeholder on the table and their motives.
Watch the webinar ”Absurd Design Speaks Louder” with Angeliki Angeletou. You will be inspired to start thinking out of the box!