Designing The Long, Hard, Stupid Way

David Chang is an award-winning chef and is currently the head chef at Momofuku, a New York based restaurant. What makes him remarkable is not the amount of awards he has managed to mount on his kitchen wall, but his approach to prepare food: the long, hard, stupid way.

Where some restaurants may use cheaper ingredients to have a higher markup but still remain in that sweet spot where the customer is happy enough to come back, David would, for example prepare his own stock to ensure that the customer is not only happy, but have an incomparable experience.

Frank Chimero puts it into a different context:

Commercial logic would suggest that Chang stop working once it no longer made monetary sense, but the creative practitioner feels the sway of pride in their craft. We are compelled to obsess. Every project is an opportunity to create something of consequence by digging deeper and going further, even if it makes life difficult for the one labouring.

The same applies to design. Every designer has a choice: She can either take the easy route by copying and pasting design trends, willfully do whatever the client tells her to do, or only put in the minimum amount of effort that would be sufficient to keep the client smiling. And paying.

Or, alternatively, we can choose to be the designer that takes the road less traveled. Fixating over the three pixels, spend another 15 min on a subtle transition, or do sufficient user research to understand our target market better.

Yes, designing the long, hard, stupid way is more difficult. We might have to stay up a bit later or produce more piles of rejected ideas in the process, but it will also kindle a deeper love for our work and the people who are moved by it…