is an independent design and editorial studio and think tank led by Jarrett Fuller. Our work takes shape across a variety of media, from books and websites to podcasts and public relations and we work with clients large and small, around the world.

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Jarrett Fuller interviews Manuel Lima for Fast Company

Date June 20, 2023
Type Project
The two talk about Lima's new book, The New Designer

Manuel Lima has worked across nearly every area of the design field. With degrees in industrial design and design and technology, he’s been a digital designer at tech startups and led UX teams at corporations like Microsoft and Google. Alongside these roles, in 2005, he founded, an archive of more than 1,000 network visualizations that would become one of the most popular data visualization resources on the internet. This research led to the publication of three books on data visualization: Visual Complexity, The Book of Trees, and The Book of Circles. He’s also a fellow at the Royal Society of Arts.

His new book, The New Designer, is a noticeable departure from his previous titles. Conceived in the midst of a mid-life crisis after turning 40, Lima started to question his role as a designer, asking big questions about the profession. “A midlife crisis can be a positive thing,” Lima told me. “I had these great experiences but I kept seeing places where design was blind to the true impact it was having on the world.” What began as a series of letters to his younger self that mixed practical career advice and philosophical questions about design’s roles in the world grew into a proposal for a new mandate for the designer: someone who values collaboration, embraces unpredictability, is rooted in ethics, and concerned with the future.

The New Designer looks at nine myths that are popular in today’s design industry—from the benign “design is perfection” to the potentially controversial “design is for humans”—and seeks to reframe them, making space for a new type of designer, one who is prepped to deal with the most pressing issues facing us, as a profession, as a society, and as a planet. I spoke with Lima about the big ideas in the book; our conversation has been edited for clarity.