Annie Lefforge is a designer interested in visual beauty and how it functions to make the world a better place. Currently at Handled.


This reading opens with a headline: “Graphic designers have long been taught that form, structure, and style are indispensable communication tools.”

While visual design is something that I value – maybe more than I would like to admit – I understand and admire the shift of design from a practice strictly concerned with aesthetics to one that centers around research and problem-solving. That’s one reason I was so excited to dive in to human centered design. I feel like even the University of Arkansas’ design program doesn’t center research from the beginning; we focus on visual acuity as the forefront of our design education. I think that might indicate we still have work to do in the field.

When we begin to recognize the connection between creative thinkers (rather than fine artists) and apt designers – that’s when human centered design will have become key to our curriculum. We have a long way to go. Even in high school, I still considered a graphic designer to be someone who had a background in fine art  from a young age. I thought I would face a major barrier trying to become a designer, but the way I think has allowed me to thrive in my research and practice.

Design requires a delicate balance of feeling, creativity and curiosity – these things are often intertwined. You can’t create meaningful work without a curious and empathetic mind; it is difficult to empathize without creative methods of engagement. I aim to be a well-rounded designer, but I think there is an overwhelming emphasis on a visual canon in contemporary design. I want to continue to flex my research muscle and be an advocate for human centered design as I move through my career.

SEPT 2020