Diasporic Design: A Straight-Ahead Approach

Miles Davis shunned retrospective creative concepts no matter how successful they may have been. As a result, his “straight-ahead” music revolutionized mid-century American culture with a relentlessly fresh and forward-thinking approach to bebop and jazz fusion.

Some indigenous and minority creatives translate visual stimuli into existential narratives that elevate their nations and communities. Globally, these designers form a “diaspora” of visionaries committed to advancing the state of their peoples. Given Davis’ lasting sonic impact and his timeless influence, perhaps all diasporic designers should consider adopting his avant-garde approach.

I believe a straight-ahead approach to creating and executing design projects will be our collective saving grace. However, for creators to effectively create, they must be free to constantly invent new concepts, methods, and projects. Visualizing fresh ideas and expressive outlets quenches innate curiosity, thus encouraging the whole person while inspiring ethnocentric passion, conviction and innovation.

The Straight-ahead Triangle (S-aT) is a progressive (i.e., non-retrospective) design process that internalizes creative innovation.  The aim is to initiate a pure design aesthetic free of corruptive external elements like mediocre design education, status quo aesthetics, workforce/workplace bias, and other destructive impositions.

Structurally, S-aT is a triangle composed of three points: Concept, Method, and Project.

  • Concept – the designer’s basic idea and raison d’etre. The concept should be unique to each designer, yet open to interpretation by interested parties (collaborators, colleagues, students, clients, etc.); this informs the evolution and finalization of the concept.

  • Method – the designer’s journey to executing the finalized concept. The method is a series of steps taken toward this end. Steps vary depending on the designer’s skills, tools, and level of mastery, which dictates the sequence of steps.

  • Project – the designer’s complete manifestation of the concept. The project is the culmination of conceptual maturation and methodical success. This is the pure realization of the designer’s vision within a creative structure void of corruptive and potentially destructive elements.

The straight line between each point represents the creative phase from one to the other. By linking these points, we create an integrative process through which diasporic designers can formulate and manifest their respective visions.

S-aT is a purist alternative to culturally incriminating design propaganda. Its points deepen S-aT’s existential dimensionality and capacity to elevate the human condition. Should diasporic designers adopt the triangular, straight-ahead approach, I truly believe that we can expand upon our future horizons with full, aesthetic clarity.

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Kahlil Crawford

Kahlil Crawford

Kahlil O. Crawford is a published poet, essayist, reviewer and futurist. He daylights as a UX strategist and content editor in the hi-tech and literary sectors. Originally from the Midwest, Kahlil currently resides in Southern California. When not writing or working, he enjoys the Orange County landscape and pristine San Diego air.

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