What is interesting? What is boring?

What if a design could help people remember which medicine they are supposed to take and when to take it? Neha Tulsian, a designer friend, released an open-source design solution knowing that her solution would solve the struggle many people face, and also hoping that pharma companies would notice and adapt that into future packaging.

This made me smile. Such a simple yet wonderful idea. 

Neha is one of those designers whom I have a lot of admiration and respect for. Nothing seems to be boring for her – just take a glance at her company’s diverse portfolio. I remember her passionately stating that a property (real-estate) brochure is fun and a property client is “interesting” when many others will just label the segment as “boring”. 

Despite running a busy studio, Neha still devotes time to exploring ideas beyond commissioned work.

I have interviewed many designers. Their usual reason for wanting to change their job is because it has become boring – churning out the same old same old every day. “Routine, mundane, not creative”. 

Does a client become “boring” after a while? Maybe. But to the extent of having absolutely no room to pursue and inject new perspectives and ideas into projects?

Maybe, the problem actually lies with the designers?

Maybe the designer didn’t try hard enough? Or maybe, it’s not the client or the brief. Is it the designer that is not “interesting”?

A friend (studio owner) gave me this example.

Many South-East Asian clients give out Red Packets as a corporate gift before the Lunar New Year. The design concept usually focuses on the zodiac animal for that year. For example, for the year of the pig, there will be loads of “pig” designs in the market, such as these:

My friends at Foreign Policy Design, the Singapore-based studio, had an interesting take:

My friend knows his design team would most likely come up with iterations of graphic pigs when given a brief like this, and then will be looking at Foreign Policy Design’s design with envy. The excuse for doing the predictable same old same old? “The client is boring. The client will never accept new ideas.” 

“But do they even have the fire in them to think differently? How can you blame the company or the client, when maybe the designer is simply not creative enough?”


Jiahui owns Fable, a busy award-winning studio in Singapore. In his studio, while self-initiated “fun, award-winning” projects do occupy a fair chunk of time, he demands his team to place equal emphasis on other projects too. 

“There has to be a balance”.

For example – marketing promotions for Grab Food. It is equally important to be able to organize information and communicate clearly the applicable promotional discounts for KFC, PizzaHut and other merchants. That’s the job of designers too, isn’t it?


I once asked Massimo Vignelli what kept his interest alive, despite having done pretty much everything that can be done in design. Lella, his life partner, was sitting next to him. She chuckled and said, “He still gets excited over every phone call on any book project”. 

“Every project is a new opportunity to test out a new design idea, a new grid, a new typography.” Said Massimo.

It is not about the project. It is not about the client. It is what’s inside the designer that keeps the interestingness alive.

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