O Danny Blog Entries  

Designer as Trickster

It's been nearly two years since designer John Rheinfrank passed away. I thought about him the other day when this quote was the centering thought at my unUsUal church:

Trickster is a boundary-crosser. Every group has its edge, its sense of an in and out, and trickster is always there, at the gates of the city and the gates of life, making sure there is commerce. -Lewis Hyde, Trickster Makes This World

(An aside: The last time I saw John was his funeral service at the UU Church in Pittsburgh, the church I started attending after being exposed to it at John's funeral. And now this appears at my SF UU church. Coincidence? Maybe...)

I once asked John how he described himself, and his answer was "trickster." He said he tricked companies into doing the right thing. Now that I am a consultant again, often for some large companies, I now have a better understanding and appreciation of his answer. Sometimes to do the right thing, organizations have to be tricked into doing it.

I often feel, coming in to a company from the outside, that I am crossing boundaries, bringing things from "the outside" in with me. It's one of the traits that makes designers powerful, I guess, because we do work in many different industries and our discipline has so many sister disciplines that we get exposed to a lot of different methods, organizations, and ideas, which designers then, like viruses, "infect" their host organisms (the companies they work for) with. In this way, the companies learn new tricks and make money. Tricksters "make sure there is commerce."

John, of course, did this trickster business really well. He was a persuasive fellow, and was able to make you feel smart by agreeing with him. This is a trait designers should cultivate.

Originally posted at Sunday, June 11, 2006 | Comments (0)

Previous Entry
Thoughts on Decoration
Let's all pull those nose piercings out, shall we, and put decoration in its appropriate places. ...

Recent Entries
New Book: Designing Gestural Interfaces

An Interaction Designer's Thanksgiving

Missing Britpop

Presentation: Gaming the Web: Using the Structure of Games to Design Better Web Apps

Connecting07: Rethinking Product Design: Why We Can't Wait

Connecting07: Medical Device Design: 10 Things You Need to Know

Connecting07: Brand, Design, and the Brain

An Open Letter to the Producers of the new Bionic Woman

Review: The Reflective Practitioner (Part IV)

Presentations on Slideshare

November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
  O Danny Boy is About Me, Dan Saffer, and has my Portfolio, Resumé, Blog, and some Extras. It also has the blog I kept of my graduate studies and ways to Contact Me.  
  Blog RSS Feeds
Blog Excerpts
Full Entries
Design Entries Only
Atom Feed