Wanderers, Explorers and the Hidden World

Written on 2022-05-06 • conversation

In ten years of working with designers, I’ve worked with two people: wanderers and explorers. The wanderer admires the tip of the iceberg. The explorer plunges into the water to discover the hidden world below.

The wanderer enjoys the scenery. He’s good-hearted. No plan. Comes across an iceberg floating in a sea of calm. He decides that he likes the iceberg and doesn’t wonder why it floats, or why it’s shaped that way. He touches, licks and smells the cold, crisp ice. He becomes excited to tell everyone about this beautiful thing.

The explorer saw the wanderer come across something unique. She stands ready to deep-dive into unknown waters. Ready to discover what’s below. At her own risk, she works hard to understand what makes this floating rock of ice so beautiful. She discovers that the ice rock used to be part of a bigger formation. And that it isn’t supposed to float all by itself, way out here. While beautiful in isolation, it’s the result of a problematic, invisible force.

I appreciate the naivety of the wanderer. And I love the grit of the explorer. The wanderer found something and now feels that we should have it too! The explorer figures out that it’s problematic to have more of these.

These are not two people. Designers can find both a wanderer and an explorer in themselves. If you like wandering, try to explore. And if you’re an explorer, try to wander some more.

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