Article ↴
A Designed Life // 2022/01/26

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with a form of Autism. Among other quirks, this means that I struggle with things that are beyond my control.

As a way of coping with this, I implement what I’ve learned through studying graphic design (and its history) in my day to day. The same way I creatively solve problems for other people, I can creatively solve problems in my own life.

How I organise and dictate my wardrobe is an example of how I creatively solve problems in the ordinary day to day. I have a system (a design system, even) wherein I hang my outfit staples on the right, ‘occasional’ wear on the left, and items I don’t wear often on another rack entirely. If an item goes unworn for long enough, I either sell it, or recycle it.

I also don’t buy specific pieces. By that I mean, I actually design an entire outfit, and then I consider how the items within said outfit might relate to other outfits. I even have a whole Pinterest board with a) a database of my current wardrobe and b) my ‘wishlist’.

My lifestyle might be considered minimalistic (minimalism is the practice of stripping something down to no more than is essential). William Morris once wrote:

‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.’

I live by this same ethos. Currently, I have exactly three pieces of furniture; a bed, a desk, and an armchair. Designing and planning my home extends to my furniture, technology, clothes, everything within my apartment. Buying less allows me to buy better, and subsequently means that I’m less wasteful than I was before in general.

This design system extends into my personal life too. I set goals, I make plans, and I act on those plans. Currently, I’m in a season where I’m laser-focused on growing my business. Rather than spending money on clothes, technology, and other things that I want in the now, I’m investing in coaching, books, and professional photoshoots to invest in the future.

I’m not a naturally organised person. Ironically, I actually thrive when everything is in order. Consciously designing every aspect of my life allows me to excel at the things I want to excel at, free of the burden of being distracted by things I previously considered to be ‘beyond my control’.

Paul Rand, one of if not the most prolific designer of the 20th century, wrote:

‘The grid necessitates analyzing simultaneously all the elements involved, and once the grid is evolved the designer is free to play with pictures, type, paper, ink, color and with texture, scale and contrast.’

Just as in graphic design, grids allow you the framework to express creativity, an organised life allows the same. Reducing the mundane to simple, repeatable processes and structures liberates one to excel at the things one really enjoys, and gives oneself the time and structure to experiment, play and be creative where it counts the most.