Q: What do you think has changed since you did more interdisciplinary design work?
For me, doing interdisciplinary work strengthens my understanding of design, how it relates to other disciplines, and where the similarities or distinctions lie. Such work encourages reflexivity and sharpens my ability to articulate the nuances within my design practice. In clarifying my practice, I can better situate my role in the different contexts that I work in.
Q: What do you think are some useful skills you’ve learnt that you think can be applied to jobs in other sectors?
One key skill that I continue to hone when doing interdisciplinary work or design research is communication - through textual and non-textual forms. The ability to be coherent and persuasive is necessary to the work I do. For this aspect, I leverage on my years of experience in producing communication design.
The other skill-set that I’ve developed through my artistic work is collaboration, which goes beyond team-working. As I have learned through my research, collaboration skills develop through real-world situations and practice. Based on my research, the following interrelated practices are key to working collaboratively: maintaining cooperative partnerships, working interdependently with members playing different roles, identifying opportunities in disagreements, sharing and integrating knowledge, and establishing joint accountabilities.
Q: Would you encourage more designers to expand the boundaries of their respective fields and why? If yes, what advice would you give them?
There is value for designers to develop a deep specialisation or expertise in their respective fields, just as there is value in expanding the boundaries of these fields. It depends on what a designer prioritises in terms of her career, interests, and resources available. To generate new knowledge and to shift the boundaries of one’s design discipline would call for the designer to immerse herself in the field(s) outside of her formal training. Within this ‘other’ field, the designer will work with people that do not have the same training. It prompts the question of whether designers and ‘non-designers’ are prepared for a partnership - one that transcends a vendor-client relationship. If a true partnership opportunity presents itself, I would encourage designers to take it.
I hold the view that we will not always have a wide span of knowledge at once, and so there is no shame in embracing vulnerability and humility that we don’t know everything. The space of not knowing is also the space to create new knowledge for ourselves and for others.