Most people use the things they own to express themselves to one degree or another. Artists and musicians feel compelled to express themselves through their art, and as a designer I guess I like to express myself trough the things I have: pens, shoes, pepper mills, baseball gloves, coffee tumbler, car, cell phone case, furniture, etc. And if satisfactory options don't yet exist, I begin the design process.
I want to talk briefly about two things I can't help but be obsessed with: pens and shoes. Both are small, but both have the potential to be packed with design. Lines, shapes, functionality, simplicity and every other detail or trait you look for in what you consider great design.
I love pens. I love shoes. What I think I enjoy most is actually the act of comparing all of them against each other, pens with other pens and shoes with other shoes in a search for my favorites.
Sometimes when I'm at the grocery store, by myself, I see out of the corner of my eye the kids art supply section (you know - with the pencils and rulers and crayons and compasses and everything) and sometimes it entices me in. And I find myself right there staring at all the pens and pencils. Just choosing and comparing and daydreaming about which ones I have had, which ones I need, which ones I used to have (like that scene in the movie BIG, when he's going through the baseball cards ”got it, got it, need it, got it, had it, want it, need it, got it). And it makes sense to me. I mean why not? It's a cool little piece of design, it’s like $1.99 for a pen that hopefully looks sweet, rights sweet and you can enjoy for hours. If you're going to write/draw with something, have it be something cool!
My pen habit, collection, obsession, whatever you want to call it, was elevated while in architecture school. During the model making process I would constantly be running to art supply stores to buy model making materials, and at those stores there is usually a pen aisle that is much much more impressive than the one at the grocery store, so I was in hog heaven. I think I bought about three pens every time I went in one of those stores. It was awesome!
Similarly, every time I'm at the mall, and I see one of the athletic shoe stores, I have to go in. Even if I was at the mall a week ago and I went in there. Even if there's two of them, and I went in both of them, I'll probably go in both of them again. My eyes light up, I have no money, no intentions of buying or trying anything on. I just want to look at and compare every single pair of shoes. I love shoes. Always have. When I was in pre-school or first grade, I filled up one big blank white piece of paper, front and back, with rows and rows of shoes, probably 40 pairs total. And these weren't just little dumb shoes a preschooler would draw, these were thought out and designed! I don't care how young I was these were good designs! I remember asking my Mom to send them to Nike, and I remember honestly believing that they would use not all but maybe two thirds of the shoes. I just wanted to help them out. I don't know if she sent them, but if she did I wouldn't be surprised :)