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SHEI Magazine is a University of Michigan student-run fashion, art, and pop culture publication. Everything from the photography, writing, modeling, editing, and publicity of our bi-yearly print publications and monthly digital mini is created by students who attend the University of Michigan. Founded in 1999, SHEI Magazine continues to produce issues of professional quality, as well as provide real-world experience to students interested in journalism, publishing, and the fashion industries.

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Design in Life: Introduction

Alex Rakestraw

My name is Alex Rakestraw, and I like clever things. I like life’s “ahh” moments – where intuition seems to take over and make the day just that much better. I like clear fonts against high-contrast backgrounds. I like the way certain buildings catch and hold light. I like how my computer mouse was built around the contours of a human hand. And I especially like the way my phone seemingly balances in my palm. At the end of the day, I am a simple man who likes simple things. But what’s so simple about a smartphone? From a technical perspective, nothing. From the user’s perspective, nearly everything. I like the bridge between technology and usability. What I really like is design. Design implies consideration and forethought. A designed product has been taken back to multiple drawing boards only to spend months in revisionary testing, all with the possibility of the project being scrapped and completely rebuilt at any moment. The final production of a designer represents the solid gold at the end of an arduous refinement process. Above all else, design is responsibility; it is the duty to make your creation perfectly usable, effortless, stimulating, and as aesthetically interesting as possible.

Examples of industrial design are everywhere, and are often the cause of the cognitive fluency we as human beings take so readily for granted. Breathtaking architecture, intuitive gadgets, and technical fabrics in purpose-built garments all represent different facets of industrial design that are present in the background of our everyday lives. Millions of man-hours are spent determining banalities as simple as button placement and typeface, just so the average citizen may fluidly interact with their surroundings without even the slightest hesitation.

Through this column, I’ll explore the creation processes behind some of the conveniences, beauty objects, and gadgets of the modern college student in order to provide appreciation for just how amazing – and intentional – the world of the present is: from iPhones to fonts, the Winter Garden to down jackets. Nearly every object we interact with features elements of consideration and forethought on the part of its producers. Everywhere you look, there is Design in Life.

Photo courtesy of the Lanka Tefl Training Institute.