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Interview: Ayse Birsel on Applying The Design Process to Life

Interview: Ayse Birsel on Applying The Design Process to Life

Come meet Ayse Birsel and get a signed copy of her new book, ‘Design The Life You Love,’ this weekend at the IC Store by WantedDesign. More info about the event here.

Ayse Birsel is the co-founder of Birsel + Seck, a human centered design and innovation studio that solves complex problems. Her ability to design award winning products for over twenty years has led her to be recognized by companies such as Nike, GE, Target, Johnson&Johnson, and Nissan where she has dreamt up designs that have contributed to and shaped the company’s overall success. She uses her unique design process, Deconstruction:Reconstruction™, and its tools to teach designers and non-designers alike to create a meaningful life in her new book, ‘Design The Life You Love.’

That said, we are extremely excited to host a book signing in celebration of her new inspirational guide at our store in Industry City. In anticipation of the event, the designer/creative director/speaker/author  kindly answered our questions on her new guidebook to design the life you’ve always dreamed of, her 2016 resolutions, upcoming design projects, and other musings. More


WantedDesign: As we start a new year, do you have special resolutions that you want to focus on?
Ayse Birsel: I was listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s wonderful podcast Magic Lessons the other day, and she shared a quote from A.S.Byatt, an author I adore, and I felt like that these are words for me to live my life by:

“I think of writing simply in terms of pleasure. It’s the most important thing in my life, making things. Much as I love my husband and my children, I love them only because I am the person who makes these things. I, who I am, is the person that has the project of making a thing. Well, that’s putting it pompously – but constructing. I do see it in sort of three-dimensional structures. And because that person does that all the time, that person is able to love all these people.”

That to me sums up my resolution for the New Year: be myself, make things and continue to love my family in this way.

WD: What are your upcoming design projects?
A.B.: Ha! It’s always a challenge to talk about upcoming projects that are confidential! Let me say we’re continuing our collaboration with Tiffany&Co and Converse on design strategy; getting ready to launch a product with Design Within Reach; finalizing a systems project with Staples; looking for US distribution for our glassware collection for Pasabahce/Istanbul; and midway through a cool project for Herman Miller.


WD: How much your life influences your work and vice versa?
AB: My work and my life are talking vessels. Let me try and describe it as a continuum — I fell in love with the human-scale of design at age 16. I became a designer to try and solve human problems through the intermediary of products. At one point, circumstances led me to try and map-out exactly how I think. Out of that I developed a 4-step design process and called it Deconstruction:Reconstruction™.

Then I wanted to see if I can apply my design process to my life. Which led to Design The Life You Love. Through it all I learned that ordinary people, non-designers, are extraordinarily creative. That understanding has changed me, how we work as a team, with our clients, and our end-users. I used to think of myself as a designer of products but now I see myself as a designer of life. Or in other words, my life and work have influenced each other and continue to do so more and more as I become more experienced at both!


WD: Before writing ‘Design The Life You Love,’ were you motivated by any inspirational guides/books?
A.B.: Happiness Hypothesis, by Jonathan Haidt. The Creative Habit, Twyla Twarp. Each of Paola Antonelli’s books and exhibits for MoMA. Wreck This Journal, Keri Smith. Nancy Duarte’s Resonate.

WD: Do you have any future inspirational guides/books in the works?
A.B.: Yes! I am afraid I have been bitten by the book bug, but also because Design the Life You Love has lots of ways it can be applied to help people and businesses. Design the Life You Love came at the end of 5 years of workshops. I learn as I teach. Now I am thinking about what I can teach next at the intersection of design and life, as well as what people want to learn that I have some expertise in it. All suggestions welcome!

To learn more, tune into the design podcast Beyond This Point and listen to their interview with Ayse about ‘The Designed Life’

This event will be located at the IC store by WantedDesign
Industry City, 220 36th Street, Broklyn, NY 11232 – Map
Subway: D, N, &R (36th St. Station)
Contact: store@wanteddesignnyc.com