10Not Your Average Design

The broader one's understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.

—Steve Jobs

The exhibition gallery was crowded that Sunday, but even so, observers maintained a quiet buzz of comments and conversation. At the far end of the gallery, there was a display case at waist level. Olivia bent forward and peered over the top, her face close to the glass. “Incredible,” she whispered, then looked up at the prints on the wall, then back into the glass.

Another face appeared beside Olivia, peering into the case in a similar fashion, and then looking up at the wall. “Cool,” said Olivia's sister Bernadette. “I can see why so many people were talking about this exhibit.”

“I mean, look at the attention to detail. You can see all the passes he went through on the stencils, down here and here. So many different colors! But then it all comes together in the final prints.”

“What I find amazing is the number of stencils he must have used. Look at the details on the waves! That's like, obsessive,” said Bernadette.

The sisters straightened up together and looked at the wall, on which were hung a series of framed, unfinished prints by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai. All of them showed stenciled passes of single colors, layered on top of one another, as a way of showing the progress from blank sheet of paper to finished print. The final print, Under the Wave off Kanagawa, was hung on its own panel to their right, where a small group of observers ...

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