My time at Runius Design has come to a close. It’s hard to believe it’s over, I just got comfortable. I’m using this blog post as a tool to reflect on my time here and reflect on some of the things I learned. However, I think what I gained will become evident once I am back in the US, when I can truly compare and contrast.
When I first arrived here, I was displaced. This was the first time living in a new country. In the beginning, I was very aware that it wasn’t permanent. Four months is not a very long time. Even so, it was enough time to become day in, day out. Living in Stockholm had become my daily life. It’s a bit hard to appreciate being in a new place once it’s not so new. And that’s a bit sad but necessary in order to truly immerse yourself into a culture. But that’s what I was out to achieve.
My experience here is part of my larger plan. A plan to understand the world as whole. To investigate cultures and all their localized problems and solutions and fit them into my idea of humans and society. All people are not so fundamentally different, as it is easy to assume. Other, far off places, seem so different and perfect because they are just that, somewhere else. The grass always seems greener on the other side. However, this is seldom true. Human nature and behavior is, at it’s core, the same the world around. We are all born on the same level, with the same necessities driving us towards survival. It’s our environment that dictates the choices we make in order to survive. And once you recognize and fully comprehend that fact, then you can go about investigating why and where there is a difference between our cultures. Each country, region, city, district, community, household, individual has their own share of strengths and weaknesses, trials and tribulations, values and vices. What seems awful in one part of the world might not be so bad in comparison to your home country. But that does not make it right to judge a people based on another’s constrains. It is about relativity, understanding the extremes and where each circumstance fits within the context of it’s culture. A certain amount of humility and respect (which I can admit, is not very abundant in the US) is required to take yourself out of your native values and accept the principles of a new culture. I have been guilty of this and still am from time to time. But after living in Sweden, I hope to employ more empathy for each culture I encounter in the future.
I learned a lot about consulting, cooperating and communicating about design in a non-design manner. During school, a project and the decisions you make are your own. The majority of communicating you do is done with design students and professors; there is a lot that is intuitively understood. When communicating with a client, there must be no ambiguity whatsoever in regards to the subject at hand. The nature of design is not easily understood, it takes a certain amount of tact in order to keep a working relationship in equilibrium. Primarily, this requires a self-awareness and confidence of design yourself, along with the social/professional skills that enable you to communicate and collaborate effectively. Many clients want to be a part of the design process, which is wonderful and necessary, but oftentimes they do not understand the context of the decisions they are making. Design is more of a way of doing business than it is a department within a business.
Living and working in Scandinavia in this space and time has had a massive impact on me professionally. Studying classic Scandinavian Design helped me develop my personal beliefs into concrete elements of my personal philosophy. I am a firm believer in democratic products. What the people consume is a reflection of their values and ideals. I am very passionate about being honest with the user and designing with integrity, not something that is easy to do in an industry ruled by money, misinformation and assumptions.
Before my time here, I was very much in favor of ‘the good old days’. Doing things the old way. In a manner of speaking, a bit anti-technology. I could only see the way consumerism has poisoned both people and the planet, in more ways than one. Over these past few months, my outlook has changed quite a bit. Iconic Scandinavian Design resulted from the seamless marriage of craftsmanship and industrial process. It was born out of acceptance and openness to progress; intelligently interpreting the future by integrating lessons learned from the past. Progress by evolution, rather than revolution. An attitude that has inspired me greatly. There is a great wealth of knowledge in the past, that much I understood. But it is quite narrow minded to disregard new and exciting opportunities because of a vendetta against smart devices. Constant progress is always going to be made, there is no stopping the advancement of technology. Technology is a tool, either watch as it is exploited for evil or take it up and use it for good. If you can’t beat‘em, join‘em.
I am eternally grateful towards Christian for the opportunity he gave me. Not only did he allow me to join his company, but he gave me great responsibility, accepted me as a team member and respected my opinion. He provided the catalyst for my professional and personal growth, a incredibly wonderful thing to do.
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Runius Design AB