“Designers are really good at disruption,” says Bill Burnett, who, with Dave Evans, co-wrote the new Designing Your New Work Life (as well as their #1 New York Times bestseller, Designing Your Life). The co-founders of the Stanford Life Design Lab have reunited to lay out a blueprint for the near-future of work – a subject radically and unexpectedly transformed by nearly two years of intense social upheaval. Designers, they say, have a built-in advantage when it comes to making sense of that transformation – and making the best of it. “Designers are very comfortable with disruption, and designers have a process for inventing the future, which is a disruptive thing,” Burnett says. “We call it design thinking, or human-centered design. Disruption is the new normal, and thinking like a designer is the thing that makes you more resilient.”
In this episode of Milkshake, we asked Burnett and Evans our most pressing questions about our future work life: Will it be remote or in the office? How do we square our possibly many-sided sense of purpose? And finally, how old is actually too old to go to medical school?
Burnett and Evans supply their answers to all these questions – while also identifying some dysfunctional beliefs built into our questions, like how to pursue our true purpose rather than sell out for the cash: “This is a great question because it’s the wrong question,” Burnett says. “We all know the busy work that you get paid well for is probably stupid, and real purpose doesn’t make any money,” says Evans (facetiously). “That’s the money-versus-meaning problem. If you set it up that way, your brain’s going to get stuck in the teeter-totter: Money goes up, meaning it goes down; meaning goes up, money goes down; pick one. We don’t like that at all. There are people who are stuck because they’re making too much money doing something they don’t want to do, or they don’t want to do anymore – frankly, reduce your cost of living and you’re not stuck. You’re only stuck once you’ve decided to let your cost of living be so high [that] you can’t afford to make less.
For more hard truths and worthy insights – including why they think remote work is here to stay and the advantages of accepting the fact that the post-covid world is “never going to be like it was” – tune in.
Diana Ostrom, who has written for Wallpaper, Interior Design, ID, The Wall Street Journal, and other outlets, is also the author of Faraway Places, a newsletter about travel.
Milkshake, DMTV (Design Milk TV)’s first regular series, shakes up the traditional interview format by asking designers, creatives, educators and industry professionals to select interview questions at random from their favorite bowl or vessel. During their candid discussions, you’ll not only gain a peek into their personal homeware collections, but also valuable insights into their work, life and passions.