Johnathon Strube

Slowly and Intentionally

May 16, 2024

Lately, I have focused on slowing down. This may be, in part, driven by growth and age. Or, it might also be in response to, as the label denotes, pace.

Specifically, a social and cultural pace that, in my opinion, is killing creativity and demanding unreasonable output in promotion of immediate consumption. Yet, as a creative professional, I believe my job is to provide clarity, quality, and delight. As, Frank Chimero notes in The Shape of Design:

The decisions that make a design delightful are an expression of compassion for the audience and care for the work being done.

Frank and I are not alone. In fact, this perspective has been codified in a manifesto-like document from Orbyt Studio, entitled Slow Design. In the introduction, Orbyt lays out the context for their perspective:

In our fast-paced world today, we often forget the importance of patience and taking time to think things through. We want to remind people of the value of creativity and clever thinking, supporting a movement that embraces focus, skill, and understanding over fast production and short-lived trends.

As the manifesto proceeds, it emphasizes eight key areas. Each area explains a specific value, then expands the issues into a social context.

  • The importance of creativity
  • Quality over quantity
  • Craftsmanship and skill
  • Mindful consumption and creation
  • Value in tradition
  • Respect for time
  • Aesthetic and function
  • Inclusive collaboration

Why Slow Design and why now?
Slow Design is a starting point during a critical and historical context. The world we have designed (and continue to design) is destroying our humanity. People are driven by fear and making life decisions based on digital perception. Likewise, we are creating a disconnected generation that lack the ability to prioritize humanity. As Jonathan Haidt notes in his recent book, The Anxious Generation:

Over the course of many decades, we found ways to protect children while mostly allowing adults to do what they want. Then quite suddenly, we created a virtual world where adults could indulge any momentary whim, but children were left nearly defenseless. As evidence mounts that phone-based childhood is making our children mentally unhealthy, socially isolated, and deeply unhappy, are we okay with that trade-off? Or will we eventually realize, as we did in the 20th century, that we sometimes need to protect children from harm even when it inconveniences adults?

Thus, it is time to slow down, but I do not mean to halt innovation. As a designer, I believe that change and innovation are inevitable. However, we know where “move fast and break things” gets us. As we move into the future, designers need to consider the social, cultural, and moral implications of their work; and think beyond active users, ad sales, or engagement metrics.

© Johnathon Strube, 1982–2024 Email
© Johnathon Strube, 1982–2024 Email