January 8, 2016

Welcome back, readers! It’s the top of the year, a new dawn, a new calendar, and a set of goals and resolutions to ring in the twelve months ahead. We here at Four Kitchens — along with the usual “go to the gym”, “drink a little less beer each week”, and “call home more often” — have a resolution for the business we’re in. A Design Resolution, as it were. And here it is:

You do you.

Way back in the early days of 2015, the New York Times published a piece on the “you do you” phenomenon as a call to inaction. Narcissistic, self-indulgent, inward-focused, and smacking of apathy — all the worst of Millennials wrapped up in a phrase. But that piece didn’t sit right with us here at Four Kitchens (who, mind you, are a healthy mix of Gen-Xers, Millennials, and those awkward transitional kids now in their middle-mid-30s who may remember Diff’rent Strokes, but only from reruns). No, ma’am. At Four Kitchens, we were much more sympathetic to Mariella Mostoff’s rebuke in Bustle: “You Do You” Isn’t Just Millennial Narcissism — It’s a Feminist Call to Action, So Keep Saying It.” She writes about how the “you do you” zeitgeist isn’t just a new cliché for the selfie-set. Rather, it’s about respect for the community and respecting the choices people make.

And what better way for a digital strategy firm to approach the new year, right? A perfect resolution for 2016. Respect the choices that other people make, whether they align with your ideals or not. There’s no better advice a designer could heed.

You really like the Papyrus font family (I’m talking to you, Austin street sign designers)? You do you.

You like Bauhaus-inspired well-ordered grid framework and a nary a serif for miles? You do you.

You wanna respond to every email with GIFs of cats falling off cabinets, gnomes vomiting rainbows, and Rihanna winking? You do you. (Seriously, y’all: Maybe 2016 is the year we retire the intra-office reaction GIF? Maybe?)

Design, programming, web presence maintenance, digital strategy — whatever you want to call it. It’s not about what the world tells us should be; it’s about what we want our world to be. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all. According to Pantone, 2016 will be the year of Rose Quartz and Serenity. While I think these two hues should never be found outside of a midwestern wedding circa early-2000s, who am I to tell Pantone how to color? You do you, Pantone. You do Rose Quartz and Serenity all day long.

No one knows what the client wants better than the client. The design world may be marked with yearly reviews of what’s in now? and what’s done and dead?, but aesthetics are fundamentally about choice, and choice is always going to be a weird mix of the personal and the public. And the “you do you” ethos encapsulates that perfectly.

We could, instead, spend the top of 2016 talking about a back to basics approach to design. Like the joy you feel when your pencil first scratches raw paper in a fresh Moleskine (or whatever sketchbook you got this year). We could talk about our love of minimalism on the web: lots of whitespace and visual pauses coded in clean, efficient CSS. We could even tell you about our commitment to content-first structures and the spirit of open source. (We love open source, in case you haven’t heard!)

But in the end, the thing that matters most in your vision is you. You. And if you want orange text on a purple background… Well, we’ll give you list of reasons why it’s not the best choice. While it’s not our job to tell you what you like, it is our job to help you make the most of it: to take your ideas and make something great, something that lets you do you in ways you hadn’t even thought about. (You like Rose Quartz and Serenity? Fine. I’ll dust off grandma’s petit four molds and we’ll rock Rose Quartz and Serenity all day long.)

You do you. But, y’know, with our help.

Happy 2016, y’all!

See Douglas Bigham's profile
Douglas Bigham
January 8, 2016

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Douglas Bigham is a Content Specialist at Four Kitchens; he's a writer and ex-academic with a background in digital publics and social language use. He likes dark beer, bright colors, and he speaks a little Klingon.

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