Dialogue: Fatimah Kabba - Design Bureau


The Pitch

The Pitch

The Pitch


Dialogue: Fatimah Kabba

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Name: Fatimah Kabba
Location: New York
Occupation: Currently deciding which direction I’ll take. Ask me in a week.

Fatimah Kabba doesn’t want to write the rules of design, but she wants you to play along. For her graphic design thesis, the recent SVA grad created The Pitch, a board game that aims to open design dialogue to a broad, Monopoly-minded audience. “We are all visual-planners,” Kabba says. Why not explore design together? From art directors, to dads, to those classic left-brain-thinkers, all players are welcome. The Pitch took months of research and challenged Kabba to write and design a game that compels players to explore design ideas through collaboration. Although The Pitch was created as a one-off project (and proved to be a bit more than your average Parker Brothers set), Kabba is hoping to fund a substantial run of the game through Kickstarter, proving that good ideas — both written and visual — are worth disseminating.

Why do you think it’s important for people outside of design to gain a better understanding of the way design works?

I believe that design is far-reaching and influential. And I say this in reference to graphic design but also industrial design, environmental design, information design, and the likes. Design is an umbrella term, and when you break it down, we are all visual-planners. We all attempt to take an idea and present it in its most simple and useful etymology.

Also, there’s a big part of me that really wants design to be viewed universally as a viable career path (for kids to say, “When I grow up I want to be a designer,” and to have their parents understand what design is) and a field that entails much more than the stereotypical notion that it only concerns itself with aesthetics.

There’s a big part of me that really wants design to be viewed universally as a viable career path

When you made The Pitch, you not only designed the contents of the game; you were also a writer, editor, and creative director. Is it ever a designer’s job to just design anymore?

I think a designer’s job is of course to design and to deal with the visual aspect. But I think the thought process and the research — the parts that people on the outside are unaware of or forget we do — are the most important parts. Being concerned with the content has always been a designer’s job.

How important do you think play is to the creative process?

Play is incredibly important. The conversations I’ve had with people in unexpected settings and the random adventures — they define you as a person and inevitably as a designer. Work is important, but I don’t think you can create interesting work if you isolate yourself.

What can designers learn from non-designers in a collaborative environment?

Non-designers challenge you to speak a universal language. When designers get together, we have a way of applauding ourselves, or we look down on things that aren’t properly kerned. Sometimes we forget that designing the heck out of something won’t resonate with everyone. But smart ideas and well-thought perspectives — it’s harder to go wrong when you get those right. Non-designers remind me of this.

I have to ask: What’s your favorite board game?

Monopoly. Typical, I guess. But growing up, we had Friday game night, so it’s less about the game and more about that awesome feeling of nostalgia. Whenever I was banker, I’d skim off the top, yet I don’t recall ever winning…

What have you been up to this week?

This week has been appreciatively hectic. I’ve been getting a lot of interest in the game, which has opened up doors I didn’t think would be opening quite so quickly right after graduation.

Anything lately that has made you look twice?

I really want to join in on this project:http://www.arthousecoop.com/projects/sketchbookproject

What designer or studio should we have started watching yesterday?

I’m a big fan of Matthew Lyons, Christopher Hewitt, Mark Weaver.

Best place to get things done:

My room

Best place to get nothing done:

Outside of an office, any place I’m not alone. I’m definitely not the kind of person who can go to coffee shop and get work done.

Best exhibition you’ve been to lately:

This year SVA’s ADC opening was great, especially the advertising work.

Favorite person to follow on Twitter:

GOOD magazine (@goodfeed)

by Sarah Handelman

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