Oprah: Where I grew up, we didn't have a mall—there was only Sears!
Daniel: Yes! At Eastland, Sears was one anchor and JC Penney was the other. Now you go into Target, where there are loads of designer goods at reasonable prices. And the pet store next to Target is larger than the entire Eastland Mall. Electronics stores overwhelm you with sound and light. A mobile phone has more computing power than existed when my grandparents were my age.
Oprah: You've said that abundance changes the way we see material goods. We no longer just want to have things; we want cool things. We want well-designed things. We want things with meaning.
Daniel: Absolutely. Tens of millions of people have iPods, whereas eight years ago, they didn't know they were missing them.
Oprah: I remember seeing people standing in line at the Apple store in Chicago waiting for the very first ones.
Daniel: Because in a world of abundance, our new job is to give people something they didn't know they were missing. What do artists do? Artists give people something they didn't know they were missing: a dance, a piece of music, a painting, a piece of sculpture. Catering to that need is the best business strategy.
Oprah: You need your left brain to invent the iPod, but the idea of the iPod is very right brain.
Daniel: An iPod is easy to use, it's beautifully designed, and it's an object of desire.
Oprah: Let's talk about a right-brain ability you think we should all develop.
Daniel: I'd say "design." Design is the ability to create something that has significance as well as usefulness. Even hospitals are bringing in designers to redo waiting rooms. A young designer in New York re-created the prescription bottle because she noticed that her grandparents were getting their medications confused. She put the medicine's name in large type at the top instead of the doctor's name, and Grandpa gets a green band on his medicine bottle and Grandma gets a yellow band so they can see the difference more clearly. That's an example of how design can literally save lives.
Oprah: How do we begin to create more design in our lives?
Daniel: Carry a notebook and write down examples of good and poor design. After a week, you'll begin to realize that nearly everything is the product of a design decision. The type of lid you put on the cup of coffee you bought this morning was a design decision. So were the shoes you're wearing.
Oprah: Before reading your book, I'd always thought of design in terms of fashion. But then I started noticing the plates that I chose for my home, the kinds of kitchen counters, the knobs, the cabinets, all were about the design.
Daniel: I'm not trying to turn everyone into star designers. I'm trying to help people become more literate about design.
We Hear You!