Design: Hmong-American Design?
Culture | Design | Story-telling | Art | Expression | Pride
Design is “The application of Art in our everyday lives” as explained by the Hmong-American Designer, Peter Herr. Peter is a full time art teacher and part-time designer, with roots from a far foreign land Coloring him “Hmong”. Through his eyes, design is more than just functionality and procurement, but an act of formality seeking expression.
Before Peter Herr found Design, his family found refuge in the United States after siege and war broke in the out in the year 1955 in Southeast Asia causing many to leave their homes and fight for their lives. Blessedly, his family got the opportunity to seek refuge in a more promising land, giving Peter Herr everything he needed to lead the life he leads today as Art teacher and Designer. Impressed by Graffiti and other forms of creative expression, Peter picked up his love for Art, as he took his first stab at Graffiti and Sketching with pencil and paper at a very young age. Spending most of his time sketching and exploring hip-hop culture, Peter discovered that he could sketch anything he saw and even produce Art that featured his own swag inspired by those who pioneered before him. Later in life, Peter Herr took his love for Art to the next level becoming an Art teacher, teaching his inner-city students to express themselves through Art, creating value for those who needed him most.
In the world of Design, we find that the definition of Design lacks expression. We find words like planning, function, form, and shape but In the mind of Peter, Design is more than just functionality. Design expands beyond functionality into expression. Design is “The application of Art in our everyday lives”. What does this mean? Functionality seeking expression, as Art can be defined as the expression or application of human creative imagination. When composing a Design, the end goal is to create a product that not only works but communicates a solution, where it takes creativity to form a solution into functionality. But how is this done?
Processing a design isn’t so simple after all. Form should follow function when trying to encompass a solution into a finished product. The idea chainsaw might be to cut down a tree but how can we ensure the design of the chainsaw actually communicates the value of cutting down the tree effectively? You might think “Duh, by using a chain with sharp edgings that has the ability to cut the tree down.” Your right but what if I told you that isn’t all true. We must first begin to understand what the solution is; cut down a tree. How? Secondly, we compile the many effective ways that this can be done; a body that supports the rotation of the chain with sharp edgings on it, utilizing an engine to em-power the thrust of the rotation. Third, we examine form of such contraption, this is where form seeks expression. The design must express that it can cut down the tree with the proper form, we can’t the chainsaw looking as if it cuts butter rather than a tree. The form must be sized enough, the edgings must be sharp enough, the thrust must be strong enough, and the operations must be controlled enough to cut down a tree. Lastly, when the formation is complete the design must be tested for its ability to perform (express) the solution. When all else succeeds, you have a complete design, where form found expression.
It is imperative to understand this process in designing as no design will ever be complete without the expression of a solutions. It’s like designing a car that is supposed to drive forward but instead it only reverses, what’s the point in having a nicely designed car that only drives backwards? Especially when attempting to design a car that not only operates correctly but looks good enough to sustain the buyers desire for a nice looking car. Without the creative imagination or form seeking expression, any design will never be a effective in our everyday lives.