A BA(Hons) in Jazzing things up

Simon Ellis | October 31, 2018

Time to read: 5 mins

“Can you jazz it up a bit?”

We love getting these requests. (I’m dying inside)

No, really. We do. (my design soul is crumbling to dust)

Design has never been more important. Life is fast, everyone’s a consumer, everyone wants our attention. Design provides the visual conduit to your audience.

It can make them laugh, it can make them think, it can be shocking or touching. A bit like jazz music.

What design must never be is Kenny G – a default, that’ll-do solution to fill an elevator with artificial pathos.

Design is strategic. It is logic, craft and artistry conjoined to a common end, working with human nature, not in spite of it. It must deploy psychology and empathy to achieve its goals.

Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio studied people with damage to the part of the brain where emotions are generated. He found that these people were unable to make even very simple decisions. Many decisions have pros and cons; shall I have the chicken or the pork? But without an emotional driver behind the logic, humans find it impossible to choose.

Design reaches for the human in all of us and inspires us to make decisions. Aim for the heart and the soul – create an emotion, generate a feeling. Like playing jazz music.

Aspire to inspire.


Don’t worry about playing a lot of notes. Just find one pretty one.

Quote: Miles Davis

Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.

Quote: Charles Mingus

We are not thinking machines that feel; rather, we are feeling machines that think.

Quote: Antonio Damasio

Music begins where the possibilities of language end.

Quote: Jean Sibelius


Si Ellis