Michael Wolff on Design: Empathy is Your Superpower

In this video from 99U, designer Michael Wolff talks about how "past experience" is not his friend, quotes Maya Angelou about what makes for lasting impressions, and dishes on about how "design can be an agreement system among designers."

In my judgement, the last point was much on the mind of architect Lance Hosey last September when he spoke at the IdeaFestival.

Because designers tend to know a "great deal about very little and very little about a great deal," Wolff believes empathy - the capacity to feel something toward the object of one's thinking - is the key to great design. I was particularly interested in his comments about corporate and business expression. In what struck me as honest bewilderment, he says "he's never understood any boardroom he's ever been in." And written corporate communication isn't meant, in his view, to be expressive or to be read.

"It's meant to be approved." That's hardly the way to connect emotionally with buyers.

Give the video a look. You won't want to miss designer and visual essayist Debbie Millman, who will be one of the IdeaFestival 2014 speakers! Festival Passes at the Early Bird rate of $350 will be available only through April 27.

Stay curious.