Stone Mind: A Design Publication by Juan J. Ramirez
A publication that dives deep into the meaning of design and the design profession in our modern technological society.
There’s a Buddhist koan known as “The Stone Mind” that goes like this:
A Zen Teacher lived alone in a small temple in the countryside. One day four traveling monks appeared and asked if they could make a fire in his yard to warm themselves.
While setting the fire, the Teacher heard them arguing about subjectivity and objectivity.
He joined them and said: "There is a big stone. Do you consider it to be inside or outside your mind?"
One of the monks replied: "From the Buddhist viewpoint, everything is an objectification of the mind, so I would say that the stone is inside my mind."
"Your head must feel very heavy," observed the Teacher "if you are carrying around a stone like that in your mind."
I don’t think there’s a perfect allegory for design, but I think “The Stone Mind” story captures well the innermost conundrum of design:
Design’s success depends on its ability to drive our subjective human experience to a consensus of what’s valuable, useful, and beautiful. An agreement about our perception of objects.
Design is like the stone in this story. It’s something we can perceive subjectively as a mental concept, yet its weight manifests in our lives as soon as we interact with something that was designed.
And almost everything in the world was designed by someone…
Stone Mind is a publication where I try to provide an objective view of the role of design in our modern technological society by reflecting on subjective appreciations of what it means to be a designer, how design can change the world, and what design represents to our human experience.
My name is Juan J. Ramirez. I’m a Colombia-born designer who has been designing technology products for over a decade. I have had the unique opportunity to lead the design of highly technical products at some of the world's largest and most sophisticated technological organizations, including Amazon, Meta (f.k.a Facebook), and Netflix.
I also hold a Master’s of Entertainment Technology with an specialization in Human Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University.
I also have had the opportunity to help multiple startups around the world define their design strategies and find their best opportunities by leveraging the value of Design.
With Stone Mind, I hope to give readers the opportunity to understand my passion for design and the human condition through the same lens that has shaped my experience.
I don’t consider myself a philosopher, but I hope you see this publication as a philosophical exercise about the meaning of design.
Everything said here is meant to be challenging and thought-provoking. Take what you need and continue with your journey.
Juan J. Ramirez