Nineteen Seconds

For a while now, I’ve been a giddy fan of MiniSuperStudio‘s work, which captures the essence of both Austin cool and Mexico City hip in a way I haven’t seen any other graphic designer pull off.

Despite them branding a bunch of my favorite books and places to eat, what has resonated with me the most is this poster they created (of course, because classic designers and their posters) after the 2017 earthquake in DF:

There are some things that will always sound different to me in Spanish and will never reach me the same way as if I had heard them in English. “Es normal sentirte así,” not only carries an extra layer of comfort and care, but it also conveys a level of vulnerability, of not quite being ready to name things yet.

The title is 19 september, but I always read it as 19 seconds. In difficult moments, taking time to stop and just take some deep breaths can give you just enough resiliency to make it to what’s next.

They tell the story better on their website.

How about that empathy

As much as I could, want to–and need to–there isn’t too much time for me to post right now. But I wanted to drop down a thought here. A snarky, spicy one. On empathy.

Yesterday, I was listening to Design Observer and Group Therapy, and hosts were discussing the unexpected universality of this truly shared human experience. As someone who has been called “Empathy Robot” before, the startling similarities between two discussions on very different podcasts pinged my subroutines, so to speak. We designers are some of the most inauthentic and even irresponsible proponents of empathy. The crux of empathy is being able to enter communion with the experience of another. Claiming to be able to have empathy for users as we enable the creation of things that we implicitly know will undermine their dignity…well that’s a variable load of bullshit, right?

For the first time in many of our designer lives, we’ll actually know empathy. I wonder what that’s going to do to all of us once we come out the other side of all of this. Will we throw around that word so cheaply?

At Arms Length: The Observatory, Episode 122

“During times of crisis, people want to make things. There’s a surge in the keeping of journals when there’s a war… it’s a response to the feeling of vulnerability, like corporeal vulnerability. My life is under attack. I am imprisoned in my house. I have to make something to say I was here, to say I mattered, to say this day happened… It’s like visual graphic reassurance.”

Jessica Helfand,

As usual, some of the best design discussion out there. Normally I listen to this podcast when I need an intellectual fix, and on the spectrum of pedantic, The Observatory can be like tasting 85% dark chocolate for the first time when one’s candy bar of choice is Snickers. I’ve always wondered how intentionally they named their podcast.

Anyway, this one was different. There was a palpable restlessness in the air. That quote says it all.