Design and Dyslexia

19th February 2021

This week I bring together the two things that interest me the most, the Dyslexic brain and beautiful thoughtful design.

RobinStyle photos

What do The Pompidou Centre in Paris, Lloyds Skyscraper and Millennium Dome in London, The Daimler Chrysler building in Berlin all have in common?

Richard Rogers – Prize winning Architect! Born in Florence, Italy in 1933 and then moved to the UK at 6 years old. He formed his Practice in 1977 and has very recently retired. He is also dyslexic, unable to read till he was 11. His title is now ‘The Right Honourable The Lord Rogers of Riverside’ (letters may have been a difficulty for him as a child but he has many after his name now).

To learn more about Richard Rogers have a read of the article below:

https://dyslexia.yale.edu/story/richard-rogers/

Richard Rogers quote:

“I have good sense of space and good at solving problems. I need to understand and absorb the problem.”

Ab Rogers, son of Richard, is a designer/architect and is also dyslexic.

Ab Rogers has been active in his raising of awareness of dyslexia and championing the many strengths that go with it, especially creatively.

During London Design Week 2016 Ab Rogers together with Jim Rokos created ‘Dyslexic Design’. They showed an exhibition of work by leading designers celebrating the dyslexic mind.

The following article explains the thought process behind the exhibition:

https://www.itsnicethat.com/news/why-dyslexia-makes-you-a-great-designer-opinion-071217

One of the exhibits was titled ‘The ladder that likes the wall’! This was a collaboration between Ab Rogers and Xenia Mosley. It represented the dyslexia’s gift of ‘from the top thinking’. A problem can be seen more clearly from the top looking down rather than within it. But to be at the top you need the support of the ‘wall’. You need the support of other people’s strengths to enable you to do what you are best at.

RobinStyle photos

The spirit of teamwork and Collaboration.

During Design Week 2019 there was a panel discussion aptly named as ‘Designing with Dyslexia is a cognitive plus.’ The discussion was steered by Dr Helen Taylor, a researcher from Cambridge University, and the panel included the aforementioned Ab Rogers. For further information read the article by Molly Long for Design Week dated 20th September 2019.

During that discussion Ab Rogers confirmed his view that we should be talking about learning differences not learning difficulties.

Dr Taylor is the originator of the theory ‘The evolution of complementory cognition’ and is a dyslexic herself. She questions the ‘norm‘ that todays education authorities wish to teach all children to become. She states:

“The idea that we should all be similar is quite strange given that we have the language to share information and combine it, we’re a very collaborative species.”

Complementary, collaboration, team work, joint effort, working together!

Within our school years we seem to be conditioned and taught to achieve the same benchmark of standards. To be able to ‘pass’ you need to have the ability to do x, y and z, follow the same paths, succeed at the same things. But if we were all good at the same things we would all fail at the same things and what kind of future would that hold?

As Dr Taylor says, we are a very collaborative species. We rely on others to help us in areas we struggle. We thrive on team work, supporting and encouraging each other to be the best ‘you’ you can be. To use every individuals strengths and skills to succeed in everything from family to work.

To refer to some famous sayings;

RobinStyle photos

‘No man is an island’ and ‘Two heads are better than one’

  • The Bible – “Two are better than one” – If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
  • John Heywoods Book of Proverbs 1546 – “Some heades have taken two headis better than one.”
  • C.S. Lewis (author) – “Two heads are better than one not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction.” (written about the benefits of reading old books as well as new.)

To revisit a quote from Richard Rogers – “Collaboration lies at the heart of all my work.”

I am always saying “Everyone is different”, everyone! Whether dyslexic or not, we all have our own uniqueness. No-one is the same, thankfully! We are then able to pool all our characteristics/skills/strengths and who knows what we can invent, design or discover in the future.

Visit Dr Taylors website for more information:

https://www.helentaylor.uk/talks

For all those budding designers out there check out: https://www.creativebriefs.co.uk/creative-projects

It provides design challenges for all young people who learn differently!

Any creative types out there wish to comment on any of the above I would love to hear from you. Do you feel dyslexia has provided you with the relevant strengths to succeed in your chosen career? What advice would you give children who are maybe struggling with the school environment? Do you agree with the need to collaborate?

Take care and I will be back next week.

2 thoughts on “Design and Dyslexia

  1. Thank you Debbie, loved this week’s blog and particularly Dr Taylor’s thoughts that if we were all good at the same things, then conversely we’d all fail at the same things! Good way of looking at things!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I always take a different perspective away from each weeks blog. This week it is ‘ Learning differences not learning difficulties’. Thankyou!

    Liked by 1 person

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