Why Design?

One of the most challenging questions I am asked as a designer is why I chose the study path I chose. I am often asked Isn’t that just the same as being an art major? or Why not choose something more useful like Computer Science or Engineering? Sometimes, I ask myself those same questions. What exactly is it that I am doing?

In my mind, the word “design” brings up many different images. Often I will picture a fashion designer with measuring tape and a model in front of her, or a car manufacturer sitting in a dark room with only a lamp as a source of light sketching the future of the automotive industry. I even picture a mad painter brushing frantically across a canvas creating a new masterpiece. The word “designer” meant so many different things that it was nearly impossible for me to know the true definition. All I knew was that all designers shared a common trait: their creativity. And, as luck would have it, I would spend my first several years of life developing my creative side, leading me to where I am today.

 For as long as I can remember, I have loved making things. It sounds cliche, but it’s true. I used to collect scraps of paper, out-of-shape paper clips, and many other things considered “trash” and assembled them into tiny sculptures as gifts for my friends and family. I was especially guilty of trash collection in school. My 2nd-grade teacher constantly criticized my never-ending mess, until the end of the year came. She chose to look beyond the mess inhabiting my tiny desk and focused on the small figures. From there, she deemed me the “Class Creator”. It was one of the first memories I had where my art was recognized by someone who wasn’t a relative or a  friend of my parents. Of course, the support of my parents played a significant role in my decision. They were the ones to shine the light for me, guiding me to where I needed to go.

Fast forward several years and it’s finally time to apply to colleges. As a Junior in High School, I was expected to have already a list of schools I wanted to visit and, possibly, apply to. Like many others before me, I was completely lost on where I wanted to go, let alone study. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to go to a big or smaller school, out of state or in the state, and traditional or technical. This indecisiveness led me to begin my college search more locally because “it makes the most sense” as my mom put it. And she was right. I was enchanted by the schools neighboring my home: UGA, Emory, and Georgia Tech.

While filling out my applications, I was unsure what I wanted to study. In the end, I decided to apply for mechanical engineering programs. At the time, it seemed like a sensible choice, given that it involved the creation of things. However, engineering focused on the more technical aspects of design, the “mechanics” if you will. As cool as that sounded, the thought of performing primarily calculus as a career for the rest of my life terrified me. My life would become mathematics. My creativity would be confined to the laws of physics and thermodynamics. As much as I tried to convince myself that that was what I wanted, it wasn’t. 

Stumbling across the School of Industrial Design’s webpage was a godsend. It looked like what I imagined I would be doing as a mechanical engineer, only more eye-catching. I saw the beautiful designs that other students had developed and the effort they put into the aesthetics of the designs. It was everything I had been searching for. It was exactly what I wanted to do.


Industrial Design. The second I decided to scroll through the Launchpad Portfolio on this secret website I had just discovered, I fell in love. Hard. Seeing students take their artistic abilities and create new things for people not just to enjoy, but use? Everything changed for me there. No longer was I doubting the decision to transfer to Georgia Tech, I simply changed the way I went about it.  I finally understood what being a designer meant. My choice to become a designer has been one of my best.

Works Cited