Why Design Matters: Conversations with the World’s Most Creative People
Debbie Millman is one of the finest interviewers working today. She is, indeed, my wife, so you would expect me to believe in her unparalleled interviewing ability, but it also happens to be the truth. I married very well.
When you live with your partner, you learn a great deal about who they really are. I knew Debbie was passionate about her work and, especially, her longstanding podcast, Design Matters. And then we started living together. I saw just how ferociously committed she is to having genuine, probing conversations with some of the world’s most creative people.
Debbie is voraciously curious and loves research. She spends hours a day in the weeks leading up to an interview learning everything she can about a guest. She studies their previous interviews. She unearths seemingly innocuous details about their early lives and careers. She reads everything they’ve written or that has been written about them, taking copious notes. And then she sifts through everything she has learned, drafting questions and determining the shape of the conversation she hopes to have. By the time she finally sits down with her guests in her studio at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, Debbie Millman is ready to guide anyone through one of the most engaging conversations of their lives. She settles in her seat, notes in hand. As she crosses her legs, her voice lowers to a huskier register, and for the next hour or two, she treats her interview subject like the most interesting person in the world. And in that time, they are.
A good interview is much harder than it looks. When a notable person has achieved enough acclaim to be interviewed, they are asked a lot of the same questions about who they are and how they work and what they think. They develop a slate of standard responses because it is rare to be asked the unexpected question. It is that unexpected question Debbie most loves asking. There’s a reason she prepares and then overprepares for her conversations. In every Design Matters interview, there is a moment where her subject expresses genuine surprise about some detail of their lives she has unearthed. Or they reveal a tender vulnerability she elicits from them with grace, care, and patience. It is always that moment when her interview evolves from good to great, from interesting to utterly compelling.
Design Matters has been in continuous production for more than sixteen years. Over that time Debbie has spoken with the world’s foremost designers, public intellectuals, artists, writers, and creatives. She initially created the podcast to have a creative outlet divorced from her professional vocation as a brand expert and designer. She was interested in what it means to design a creative life, but over the past sixteen years the Design Matters project has expanded as her skill has sharpened. She has created a gloriously interesting and ongoing conversation about what it means to live well, overcome trauma, face rejection, learn to love and be loved, and thrive both personally and professionally. She has spoken to people about their crowning achievements and lowest moments. She has amassed more than four hundred and fifty interviews at this point, and each and every one is unique. From her first interview, with designer and creative director John Fulbrook, until now, Debbie Millman has become a singular voice in the world of intimate, enlightening conversations. She has demonstrated, time and again, why design matters.
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|Epub||March 3, 2022|