Frank O’Connor: Being Design
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Frank O’Connor: Being Design

Frank O’Connor: Being Design

As Mahatma Gandhi said, To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest. I respect standing up for what you believe in. I like the idea of friendship and extending trust to everyone you meet. This article describes how life, people and ecodesign inspire me.

Now is where. For now; I am.

It’s a collection of thoughts, which make up the ingredients that have been, and continue to be important in my life.

This morning: In the mirror – Someone else’s face.

I recognize that I am an ideological dreamer, have a tendency to be impatient and am not always the best listener.

If only once: To sit still – Like a frog.

My passion and motivation is to facilitate positive social, environmental and cultural change for the benefit of wider society through my personal and professional life, which I view as one. I do this through the badge of ecodesign, which I describe as good design: strategic and responsible.

I am interested in design as more than a game of recognition and success and do not see myself as a designer, not in the traditional way of designing ‘stuff’. In fact I do not know ‘what I am’ but that is not important. I am fortunate to love what I do. Through experience I have come to realize that this desire to be defined can be detrimental to what you want to achieve.

I see design as a strategic way of thinking, of facilitating change for the benefit of wider society through an unlimited range of options. Design is a dynamic, flexible process involving many actors that requires you to think on your feet, and create as you go along. I believe in experimenting to see the unseen, throwing as much as you (collectively) can into the ‘melting pot’ to see what comes out.

Design is not black or white; there is lots of grey, and other colours too. There is an ongoing need to rebalance and re-adjust. I feel that if you live design, be in design, you really do experience design.

I believe life is to be lived, daily. The lens through which I try to view the world is to continually see the world afresh, as if for the first time. This requires recognizing that not everyone wants the same. Life is not about creating ‘culture clubs’ so I try to recognize things happen for a reason and accept life as being ever-changing.

“Without contraries, there is no progression”: William Blake

Everyday people inspire and energize me. A friend once told me ‘never lose your sense of wonder’. I am fortunate to inhabit an environment full of diversity. Ecodesign presents an opportunity to interact with people from differing subjects, disciplines and professions: including policy, business, education, community, research, art and science.

I am interested in people: us, you, me, them—all of us, without the labels that society has created. I like the idea of flattening society’s structures, removing hierarchies giving everyone an equal voice.

I am fascinated by people’s behaviour and its resulting consequences. I am intrigued with the idea that people are conditioned to wear a mask.

“Year upon year

The monkey’s mask

Reveals the monkey”: Matsuo Basho

I admire the way dogs don’t hold grudges; they always move on with unconditional love. They trust you. To me trust is key, from self-trust through to societal trust. I believe people are inherently ‘good’, so the integrity, and good intentions are already in place. Unfortunately, unlike dogs, we judge ourselves by our intent and others by what they do. This is a barrier to progress.

I love the concepts of collaboration and abundance: sharing your thoughts, experience and knowledge openly. The more you release the more you free yourself up for new ideas.

A changing world: Where time is constant – Ready for collection.

I am fascinated by motivation. If you like what you do, you will like doing it. The reverse also applies. If we could enable human potential, then the options for growth seem unlimited. Education should focus on finding passion, building confidence and freeing our mind.

Values-based leadership in design intrigues me. And the idea that good leaders both lead and follow. While leaders need followers, leaders also need to enable followers to become leaders.

I am interested in how you respect the needs of the individual and collective. I see the ego as a barrier to this and its control presents an ongoing battle for design. To continue to grow in design you need to recognise your personal desires.

Design like life needs to be experienced. We need to break habits conditioned through society, education and culture. We need to get out of our comfort zones, be positive, embrace challenges, take risks and have fun, learn through being and doing. Being proactive and making mistakes is far better than doing nothing.

Through working together design can help us view and understand the world, and our roles in it. It can help us construct a new future where we value people, planet, activities and time. After all I did mention I was a dreamer… More at Hiatus’ book.