Don’t Bother Me, I’m Busy Failing

Failure’s just another word for nothing left to lose … and often everything to gain. I’m a firm believer in learning from failure, especially design failures–so I edited a book, Design Disasters: Great Designers, Fabulous Failures & Lessons Learned, in which more than 30 designers, writers, illustrators, and thinkers address the notion of how failing somehow changed their creative lives.

Sometimes failures come in major transformative packages. Other times, they are well-meaning attempts at altering paradigms like the Aerocar (above) and the Davis three-wheeled sedan (the one that looks like an Oxford shoe, below). Sometimes, they are mistakes that miraculously lead to revelation.

Failure, I like to tell my students, often gets you more face time with the teacher than success. So don’t be afraid to valiantly fail.

What’s your most monumental failure? What lesson did you learn?

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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.

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