The 10th year anniversary of San Francisco Design Week is coming up! While I won't be able to make it this year, I was able to attend a great deal of the events back in 2015. The following is a repost of my learnings originally posted through Inflection.com.


Every year, the San Francisco Chapter of AIGA hosts its largest design week where designers and design enthusiasts alike gather to discover why design matters and where the industry is going. Inflection is located at the prime center of both the Bay Area and Silicon Valley– the hub of design innovation and true entrepreneurial spirit. This past week, I got to experience and volunteer alongside AIGA members in several events that broadened my perspective and taught me new ideas to help me grow as a designer. Here are a few lessons from the week:

Your Process is a Personal Process

As designers, we’re always discussing design process and trying to find the secret formula to creating great designs. However, we are all also pretty unique in the work that we do and the styles we represent. For Lil Tuffy who shared his journey to designing and screen-printing posters, it was about putting yourself out there and embracing the nature of handmade work - it’s not perfect and that’s okay. And as Dan Stiles expressed in his talk about his process, “You don’t have to start with a great idea. You just need to end with one.” He just starts with an idea and then reduces extraneous elements till the main message gets across. However, he doesn’t just go from point A to point B, it’s all about trying something new and just playing with an idea till it felt right.

Whether you’re creating custom handmade screen-printed posters like Lil Tuffy or iterating in a reductive manner on posters and book covers like Dan Stiles, it’s important to embrace your own process.

Design Beyond Yourself

For many of us in the field, we are designing products and services that directly impact the people within our society and space. Quora’s design team hosted a panel discussion with design leads in the field around “Designing Social Systems” to share insights on encouraging and empowering communities to self-regulate. No matter the type of product/service you’re designing, it’s important to build trust. Whether that’s providing a great first impression by engaging in open conversation with users, setting and managing expectations, or finding ways to effectively combine qualitative and quantitative data to inform design decisions - all must be done with the user in mind. Ultimately, as David Cole, Design Director for Quora, expresses, it’s important to study fields outside of design. After all, it’s not about building something that’s perfect and elegant but designing in the mindset that society, as a whole, is a living organism that is continuously growing. Taking in lessons from psychology, sociology, economics, and beyond help us become better designers for our users.

Share, Share, Share!

Lastly, the biggest lesson I learned during this week was to share. Whether that is as an organization opening up your space for studio tours or as an individual getting out there and engaging in conversations about doing what we love, it’s important to get these ideas and our work out in the open. With over 75 events that Design Week hosted, each and every single one embraced sharing our knowledge and processes to help not only become better designers but to design for a better future.

Currently, as a designer focused on the web, these events helped me touch back on roots of my other design skills outside of web and provided a refreshing outlook on how to approach my work. After all, the design team at Inflection is all about sharing and continuing to learn to better design for our users.