Design is like gift-giving. How?
When one person gives another person a perfect gift, the gift is valuable in three ways:
- The gift itself is intrinsically valuable to the one receiving it. The gift is good to have in one’s life, because it makes life easier, more pleasant or more meaningful.
- The gift contributes to the receiver’s own self-understanding and identity. The gift becomes symbolic of the receiver’s own relationship to the world — an example what they experience as good, which can signify the recipient’s ideals in concrete form, in ways that explicit language often cannot.
- The perfection of the gift is evidence that the giver cares about and understands who the receiver is. The successful giving of a perfect gift demonstrates that the giver was moved to reflect on what the receiver will value and consequently has real insight into who they are as an individual and what they are all about.
Great design experiences are similar to gifts. When a design is successful the beneficiary of the design gets something valuable, sees tangible proof they are valued and understood, and experiences an intensification or expansion of their sense of self.