Symbolism, hidden meanings, metaphors:
these are things that I often just don’t understand.

This is rooted in how my brain works.
As a neurodivergent designer, I tend to work in a very literal space with little hidden meaning. The design choices I make are almost always either arbitrary or functional. I do not use symbolism as much as my peers and often cannot quite grasp the symbolism they are trying to convey.
I feel like I am sometimes on a different plane of perception.
I notice what others don’t and I don’t notice what others do.
I often feel left out of the supposed hidden meanings behind others’ design choices. My view is that pressure to find meaning and symbolism in design leaves behind the opportunity to appreciate work for what it is, what it does, and how it does what it does. Design does not necessarily need to have symbolism or deeper meaning.  I do not believe that every piece of design needs to make a statement. It is possible for a design object to be just what it is and still be valuable to the world of design. As designers and critics of design, we are potentially leaving out segments of the population by insisting that every design choice must mean something.
I want to be clear, a neurodivergent perception of design is not a bad thing.
A neurodivergent approach to creativity is actually an advantage. Neurodivergent individuals are by no means less creative than our neurotypical counterparts, we are just creative in different ways. “This is where neurodivergent individuals have an advantage — because of the variations in their neurological make-up they literally ‘think differently’ — seeing past the conventional frameworks which can limit the creativity of neurotypical individuals.”2
Here’s how my brain works in my design process:
My work is often very literal and I rarely place intentional symbolism in my design. When I am not given explicit guidelines, I often create them for myself, but those guidelines rarely mean anything beyond telling me what to do.
In building a body of work I intend to represent my own experiences through physical forms. I wanted to further explore arbitrary and default systems as well as displaying objects for what they are and nothing more.
I want to start a conversation in design about appreciating work for what it is and welcoming people into work whether or not they understand deeper meaning and symbolism. I aim to represent my neurodivergent creativity in a way that everyone can understand, and in doing so, build empathy between neurodivergent and neurotypical individuals.
This is how I perceive the world. This is how I design.
2. Griffiths & Medlicott
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