I was recently reading the book Do Design, and it got me thinking on how beautiful design can help in building enduring communities. For those who haven’t heard of the book - artist, designer, and entrepreneur Alan Moore delivers wisdom on how a good design can transform our lives, whether it's a carefully constructed table, innovative typography, or a thoughtfully engineered device. The book is a stirring exploration of beauty and a great place to start your journey to building many things beautiful, including thriving communities.
Good design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the community. When we talk of beauty and imbibing it in our design, you can’t not talk about Steve Jobs. Design is at the heart of everything Steve Jobs has done. While most of us know how Steve Jobs built stunning products at Apple, only a few of us know of his time at Pixar. Steve left Apple in 1985 to join Pixar - the place that gave birth to blockbusters like Toy Story, Cars and Finding Nemo. But why are we talking about Pixar today?
Pixar is an epitome of how beautiful communities can be the catalyst to great collaboration. Let’s talk about Pixar’s campus for instance. Built on the site of a former cannery, Pixar’s fifteen-acre campus was designed, inside and out, by Steve Jobs. It has well-thought-out patterns of entry and exit that encourage people to mingle, meet and communicate. There is a soccer field, a volleyball court, a swimming pool, and a six hundred-seat amphitheater. Sometimes visitors misunderstand the place, thinking it’s fancy for fancy’s sake. What they miss is that the unifying idea for this building isn’t luxury but community. Steve wanted the building to support the work by enhancing everyone’s ability to collaborate.
“Design is not just what it looks like and how it feels. Design is how it works”
I believe true success of any community is in its ability to make collaborations happen. Collaborations can mean different things to different communities. From creating music together to working on a startup idea to just getting your queries answered, you need to create spaces and culture that allows members to - no encourage members to - collaborate. Collaborations cannot happen if your community isn’t designed to allow members to express themselves. Your community needs to value self-expression. This tends to make a big impression on members, especially new ones, who will get a sense of possibility.
Intimacy is also a critical, and an often ignored component, of a well designed community. Even if the community scales to a million members, members should feel like they belong here. When you pick a platform to build your community, focus on how you can deliver this to your members. Communities are not social networks. Communities are not Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Your members need to always feel like they can express themselves in a way they want, when they want. Help them find other members who relate to them, encourage them and join them in creating beautiful things - together. This doesn’t just happen. Beautiful things are only born out of beautiful places, and your community should be one such place.
“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains”
Glynk’s tip 💡
So how can you start creating beautiful communities? Recognise the opportunities for creating beauty. You can’t rush this stuff. Read widely on science, technology, society, sports, culture - anything that you can get your hands on. This is ultimately the raw material that will feed your imagination. Eventually, it will help you make connections, create meaning and adjust your world view. It’s the sub-conscious mind that does the work. And then you will start seeing patterns. It just happens. Through this journey, remember to be open and optimistic. Observe. Recognise no boundaries. Let go of any fear. And most importantly, be curious!
At Glynk, we have focused on delivering beautiful experiences in every single community we have powered. It’s something that we work really hard for. Because beauty and great design appear to be so effortless, we mistake it to be easy. But it’s years of practice and sticking to our core belief that has helped us see, design and develop tools that we can be proud of - one that delivers beautiful communities to the world.