Towards a sense-driven life

I’ve always been known as someone obsessed with physical books, fountain pens, inks, stationery, and various paper-based ephemera. However, in my third year of working in tech industry, I noticed that I’d been unconsciously tip-toeing away from tangible materials that I’ve been raised with in design school. If you’re a traditional designer, you’ll recognise this as an abomination. To me, it seemed like the equivalent to an illness, and there was only one solution. I had to be more deliberate in my choices. And what better way was there than to document myself culminating on small tactile experiences that I’d become a small expert in?

Symptoms

It all began when everything I did had to be executed in the most efficient, immaculate, and fastest way possible. The feeling that I was constantly late was most pronounced. It was exhausting to catch up to the millions of thoughts, and of course I was never fast enough to grasp the intangible. I was consumed by the insatiable need to find the quickest route, the most accurate way to complete tasks, and I even forbade myself from serendipitous processes in my design thinking. I noticed I moved away from manual ways of doing tasks, only to replace them by predictable and mechanical methods. My occupation ultimately calls for pixel-based outputs which only reinstated this behaviour.

Diagnosis

The rushed nature of my feelings inevitably led to my complete and utter unhappiness that I exhaustively hid. I believe this was a big stressor and was likely the cause of physical breathlessness.

Patient notes

I realise now, only with the gift of hindsight, that I’d been trying to abstract myself from the physical world. Kenya Hara talks about this phenomena in his book Designing Design, where he suggests that our sensory perceptions and receptivity are starting to fade away due to the increasing tendency to live conveniently. He argues that technology is always driving us to slack off. For me, it was clear I have been drawing and writing less, moving straight onto the computer where no motor-based glitches would be made. I was merely collecting stationery and ephemera without the need to employ them in my daily life. I was far away from existing in reality.

Prescription

Living a balanced digital–analogue lifestyle is what I’m hoping to achieve through this channel in two ways. The first is to pay attention to my immediate surroundings and publish a subjective report or review on a particular material experience. The second is to interweave my drafting and publishing process which won’t be visible to you directly, but will be a conscious effort from me.

“Sense-driven” describes a situation in which progress pivots on our sensory perceptions.
—Kenya Hara

I envision this space being filled with my appreciation of well-crafted objects, books, and fountain pens through a heavily design-bent lens.

Transmission

I hope there is something beneficial for you in what will be my inward-looking and somewhat self-centred journey. I am by no means a professional writer, but I will strive for grammatical correctness and naturality in prose. I would love to hear about your observations too. Drop me a line on Twitter or send me an electronic mail for your longer thoughts. I’ll be glad to hear from you.

—Julie Jeon


Hara, K. (2001). Designing design. (3rd Ed.). Switzerland: Lars Müller Publishers.