A little while ago I was stuck trying to answer the question “What kind of designer do I want to be?” I thought about this question a lot, as my focus today would very well influence my work in the future.
What I can gather is that there are many designers that want nothing more than to master their chosen craft. There are also many organisations that look for designers that have a deep set of skills and knowledge in one area only. Maybe its Branding, Art Direction, Interface Design, User Experience or Research. This by definition is Intradisciplinary: working within a single discipline.
While not wrong, I personally don’t find much satisfaction in locking myself down to a single set of skills when I find enjoyment and interest in many areas of the design process and the thinking behind each.
There is also the term Multidisciplinary that gets thrown around a lot. For those unsure the definition is as follows: people from different disciplines working together, each drawing on their disciplinary knowledge. This can be a good way to describe my preferred work environment as most most product teams and agencies will be made up of not just designers but also architects, developers, product owners, project managers, strategists and testers.
The definition though that I think best describes how I tend to work is Interdisciplinary: integrating knowledge and methods from different disciplines, using a real synthesis of approaches. For me it’s the combination of skills from Visual Design, Interaction Design, Experience Design and Research together creating a holistic approach to solving problems. Also it is much more satisfying.
I believe the need for working interdisciplinary will only increase, as it is the easiest way to bridge disciplines, empathise and understand not just user goals, but business and technical ones too.
If interested there is also further reading to be done on:
Crossdisciplinary: the ability to view one discipline from the perspective of another.
Transdisciplinary: creating a unity of intellectual frameworks beyond the disciplinary perspectives.