Typically a design process model contains a briefing, understanding the constraints or the context, defining specific requirements, exploring design solutions, testing and analysing solutions, communicating…but not always in this order. This works, however a fluidity is still needed to create something out of the box. When these models don’t get questioned about the importance of each step and how wrong they can be, the probability is higher to create something similar to others. All projects are different. Naive are those who think that they can use one design process for every project. “You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot.” (Bruce Lee)
More and more the creative process is becoming similar to a form that designers must fill so they can await a successful outcome on their projects. The intuition of the designer has been put aside. The only thing that makes us unique is actually our intuition, and also what might give a chance to our project to be unique. “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” (Steve Jobs)
Intuition just as inspiration doesn’t fall from the sky. As “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” (Picasso) intuition should also. You need to train yourself to understand what you really feel. How many times have you done a sketch and liked it and after exploring it for several recopies you came back to the first one? It’s for sure that when rationality gets out of the way of the creative intuition the best creative work happens.
A design process without some guidelines can turn into something out of tracks due to the multitude of possibilities that any project can lead us. Never the less this guideline should be re-created from project to project and reformed as we go with what our “guts” tells us. We should look to the past and the present, in search of evidence to prove that we are right, but look at it as more than mere data collection. Knowing what’s been done well, wrong and what’s out there is actually great to our creativity. Engaging this information as passed experiences, as concepts that can be combined into something new, preferably if they were never seen or thought together. Nowadays it’s possible to live “experiences” at the short distance of a web search, and be inspired by objects, buildings, and cultures without even being there. Even if only by our visual senses, it’s still a great opportunity to see the world without many expenses. So today “I don’t have the opportunity to travel the world and see new things” is becoming lesser of an excuse, with technology as a source of inspiration. “Radical innovation requires both evidence and intuition: evidence to become informed, and intuition to inspire us in imagining and creating new and better possibilities.” (Jane Fulton Suri) Intuition is our best weapon to strike something new, but always with some risk involved, because when you create something unique there will be nothing to compare with, and the risk of failure will also increase too. These “intuition leaps” should always have some realistic insights to decrease the risk involved comparing to similar projects if possible. Personally I think it should be taken because “Design is about enjoying risk” (Sam Hetch) and those who don’t do it, venture to only create something dull.
We should see our selves as boats lauching a fishing net, gathering all our experiences and from time to time pulling them and combinining them, conceptually perceived by us, into something new, with no fear of how to idealise it. The connections between the creative process and the industrial one make most designers drift apart from what is really important. As designers “…try to integrate scientific methods into the design process so that they could be accepted as serious partners in the sphere of industry.” (Bernhard Burdek). The time lost thinking about the production of a project on an earlier stage eventually leads to a lack of creativity, “The question today is not “how are these things made?” but “what do these things mean for us?” (Bernhard Burdek).
A design project not only generates material but also emotional reality. These communicate through feelings that should be seen as important as the functional and material ones. As semiotics, the project should be like a sign, an object of emotional desire and understanding. “It is not enough that we build products that function, that are understandable and usable, we also need to build products that bring joy and excitement, pleasure and fun, and, yes, beauty to people’s lives”. (Donald Norman). So every designer should be similar to a storyteller, where your tone will always be felt, making your product unique in a way that only you can. Not to mention the obvious need of functional requirements of the project that should be leveled with the semiotic. For example a pen needs all the ergonomic needs, but it also should demonstrate the user’s social position. That implies to a jacket, a chair, a building… or any other material reality surrounding us. People don’t buy objects only because they need it, that’s the primordial need, in a world with so much to offer, we obtain new experiences and the need to feel unique by the objects we possess.
Innovation is an area of many needs, more than intuition, it needs creativity, energy, and enthusiasm even if the destiny is uncertain. Focus on how it can have a great impact on everyone involved from the creator to the user. Without any blindfold of optimism look upon what’s coming positively and with the right motivation. Our intuition does not always leads us on the right path (but then again, no process is 100% accurate), just know that when it does, it’s worth it.
BURDEK, Bernhard. 2005. Design : History, Theory and Practice of Product Design. Birkhäuser. Basel.
PARSONS, Tim. Thinking: Objects, Contemporary approaches to product design. AVA. Lausanne
HETCH, Sam. 2007. In: Fiell, C, and Fiell, P. Design now. Tashen. Colgne
EVANS, Robin. 1991. Translations from Drawing to Building. MIT Press. Massachusetts.
SPINOZA, Baruch. The Ethics. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/3800/3800-h/3800-h.htm – 14/11/2014