1.The Current Landscape

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Surveying the design landscape around us today, the modern designer may feel stretched in multiple directions. We must be both experts and dilettantes of fields both within and around our domain. Every day we find there is an endless supply new devices, spaces, and outlets to design for. The possibilities available to us are at once awe inspiring and intimidating.

How can we begin to build a scaffolding upon which our practice may thrive in this disparate landscape? As an undergraduate student learning about visual hierarchy my design professor, Karen Cheng, often said “If everything is important, nothing is important.” This idea can also be extremely helpful in thinking about how to position ourselves as trans-disciplinary designers. If we can’t be experts in everything where should we focus our energies? In many ways, it seems the most interesting space emerging today is the space in between.

Fig. 1 The InDesign Layout

It used to be that designers were just focused on designing The Pages. For instance, pages of a book (see Fig. 1) or pages of a website. The reader could only turn the page to get to the next one or click a link for a new page to load. Content also usually existed in just one form. While the visual design of this main content is obviously very important, with advances in technology we’re finding there is now emerging a void in between these beautiful things. Who is responsible for filling that void? Clearly that should also be the designer. But a modern designer is not only responsible for creating a linear journey from point A to point B. We are also tasked with setting the stage for the interesting range of possibilities that can take place during that journey. This is also a common thread capable of transversing multiple forms, whether that be animation, physical objects, or the built environment. These seemingly disparate fields are united by the need for a designer to create the scaffolding for complex experiences that can evolve in the gaps.

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