List 063: Tell-tale signs I was a designer even before becoming one

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1) When I was about 6 years old, our first grade teacher, Mrs Sekman, gave each of us some shapes cut out of coloured paper. Our task was to make pictures out of them and paste the picture on to a clean sheet of paper. I made a house on wheels (like a motor home) which I finished in about 20 seconds. This was my first official collage. Mrs Sekman was so impressed that she held it up to the rest of the class and explained, “This is how it’s done.”  It took everyone else the whole hour to complete the exercise so I did more collages.

2) I collected and still collect all sorts of crap and make all sort of lists. A necessary evil that fuels the obsession/madness that makes a designer a designer. See the About page for further details.

3) When my parents and I would go on our weekly grocery shop to Rustan’s supermarket, I would head off to the stationery/knick-knacks kiosk of the department store and excitedly pour over new rulers, pens, pads of paper, sticky tape rolls, erasers, and all the other shiny items on that small shelf. What is it with designers and our fascination with stationery? I don’t know really, but every single designer i’ve met reacts to a beautiful notebook or a funky pen in the same way a 13-year old girl goes spastic at a Justin Bieber concert.

4) When I was 13, I did not go spastic over anyone in concert. I designed my own alphabet instead. It was based on modern English letters and deconstructed until it resembled a very odd cross between Korean and Klingon. I didn’t have the slightest notion about what typography was; my carefully crafted system of letters was developed specifically for me and my friends to write notes about boys we liked and bitches we hated without getting caught by relevant authorities.

5) All throughout the years in high school when trigonometry was forced down our throats for 2 hours a day, I took to using the graphing paper on my notebook as a sketchbook. In between the pages of sine, cosine, alpha and beta symbols were little squares filled with patterns: dots, circles, spirals, florals, straight lines, dotted lines, squiggly lines, waves… you name it. My teacher, a highly passionate mathematician (I could never figure out if he was a remarkable genius or a complete kook), happened to catch a glimpse of it and growled at me for introducing such lunacy into the world of higher mathematics.

6) In the spirit of Pierre de Fermat and entry #5, I would stare for what seemed like hours at my calculus and mathematical economics notes in college. I examined all the graphs and Greek letters, not really caring about whether I understood them or not (the latter being the norm), but admired the lines and spaces formed by the curves and shapes of the numbers, letters and symbols. I’d run my fingers across the pages and marvel at the rows and rows of equations, each logically building on the previous, each forming patterns that were visually complex yet aesthetically balanced.

I really should’ve known better.


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