INside Track: The Passion Play



I’m pretty much stuck in the last millennium when it comes to music. While I’m open to listening to new artists (well new to me at least) I don’t really go out of my way to discover them. Give me Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti and, dare I admit it, Elton John’s Honky Chateau and I’m in business.




But that all changed ever so slightly this summer when a new designer, Rich, joined our team. I’d pretty much describe Rich as the strong silent type. He’s generally quiet but certainly gets along well with the rest of the team, and he’s very focused on his work.

I don’t recall how we got started on the topic of music, but when it turned to groups I really didn’t know about, and specifically The Foo Fighters, Rich perked up. Actually, he became quite animated and earnestly began to delve into the inception of the band, their commitment to pure rock and roll and how they recorded their newest album in a garage, albeit a garage filled with state of the art recording equipment.

It really wasn’t what Rich said that got me to download the entire album Wasting Light, the Foo’s newest collection of music, it was HOW he said it. His passion for the group was so compelling that I had no choice but to seriously give them a shot. Not coincidentally, the band clearly embodies an incredible passion for their music and I now place them squarely in the same league as Zeppelin, The Who, Dave Matthews and Aerosmith.

My point here is that, as in-house designers working in a world of design philistines, we had better communicate that same passion for our profession and the practice of design as Rich expressed about his favorite musicians. Without passion all our design platitudes and rationales will ring false and hollow. With passion, we’ll be able to change the very way our companies perceive of and value what we love to do every day.

3 thoughts on “INside Track: The Passion Play

  1. Chad

    Passion is difficult to display without being called emotional. To most of the people I build projects for work is just work. A design change is just job security.
    I am currently working on completing 50 state versions of a presentation book. Each book has between eight and eleven chapters. Each chapter is variable by state. The format of the books had been researched, presented to end user focus groups, management focus groups and was tested in a smaller form with our sales force and customers. It was successful enough that a decision was made to apply the design system to all of our products. Thus, the new book. I am now 4+ months into the project and two months from a very tight inventory delivery date.
    Two weeks ago a Sr. Executive VP of sales made the unilateral decision to change the format to a 3-ring binder. My team chose to fight for the design. The design research was presented including a cost benefit analysis to show that the new design was well reasoned. Everyone involved agrees the new design is more attractive and easier for both our sales team and customers to use.
    The reply to my team was that we were too emotionally connected to the job. The decision had been made. “Don’t get caught up in the change. It is just work. You will still be able to meet the deadline, right?”

  2. Bob Calvano

    Hey Andy,

    Design aside… welcome to the new millennium. I love Led Zeppelin as well, in fact, John Bonham was a major influence on me back in the day. That said, the Foo Fighters are one of the best bands since that era, and they too are fans of Zeppelin. A special thanks needs to go out to Rich for introducing you to Foo’s new album Wasting Light. Now, please don’t tell me I need to introduce you the the Red Hot Chili Peppers.


    1. Andy Epstein Post author

      Hey Bob,

      I’m old but I’m not dead! I’ve been a Chili Peppers fan for years, although I have to admit I found out about them through my younger brother.