Julie Lasky | Essays

Design Your Own Life

Autumn Light on the Mountain, image courtesy of Shutterstock

In the late 1990s. the industrial designer Ayse Birsel introduced Resolve, a workstation for Herman Miller that looks like no other. It is pie shaped and lofty, with a tubular structure, petal-like canopy and partitions festooned with a variety of patterns. Based on the simple idea of a 120-degree angle defining seating areas, Resolve disrupted the familiar language of office furniture, creating organic clusters that dot the open-plan office — a kind of tall, whispering worker’s forest.

Today, Birsel, a co-principal with her husband, Bibi Seck, of the design studio Birsel + Seck, has refined her instinctive approach to creating unique objects into a methodology she calls Destruction Reconstruction. Its object is to identify and reorganize the lenses — tastes, techniques, biases, contexts — designers routinely train on their work. The outcome is both counterintuitive and familiar and resets standards for entire product categories. It’s Issey Miyake’s fashion experiments, Ferran Adrià’s molecular gastronomy and Apple’s iPod, to name just a few examples.

Deconstruction Reconstruction also can be applied beyond products. On November 12–13, Birsel will lead a workshop in New York called “How to Design the Life You Love” adapted from her strategy. “So many of us dream about the lives we want but don’t get around to living them… Learn how to be inspirational and intuitive. Use metaphors; be playful, optimistic and constructive,” the program offers.

For more information and to register, go to www.theacademioflife.com and click on “Classes.”

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