Creating the ideas

June 4, 2008

Knowledge really is like a tree. The more we learn, the more we discover we do not know. The branches of understanding expand exponentially. With the vastness of content in the world, it is easy to justify our inability to make decisions.

We set foot on a fourteen lane highway of choices every day. When we go to the store everything fights for our attention. Shelves are stocked with 62 brands of toothpaste that claim to whiten better than their competitor, there is an entire aisle for condiments, five refrigerated sections of cheese, and 147 different brands of ball point pens in stock.

There is no doubt many of us struggle when it comes to narrowing down our ideas. In our heads we know how much we are capable of and because of that awareness we let ourselves down every day. We are not reaching our potential. There are entire sketchbooks in there, novels, paintings, amazing pieces that should win awards. We have millions of ideas- beautiful thoughts, bits and pieces floating around in our heads. We let them stir and fester, but when the thoughts are ripe we must create.

There is a thin line between intimidation and inspiration, organization and chaos. These opposing elements coexist and spur each other on equally, effortlessly. It’s the fear of doing too much or not enough that lies in the balance of all design. The equilibrium. Ockham’s razor is a principle that is a necessity for good design. A principle that creates great design.

Entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity. “All other things being equal, the simplest solution is usually the best.” William Ockham, “Ockham’s razor”

If a thing can be done adequately by means of one, it is superfluous to do it by means of several; for we observe that nature does not employ two instruments where one suffices. Thomas Aquinas

The simpler solution is usually the greater. As designers, we often forget the beauty of white space, the effectiveness of simplicity, and the emphasis in singularity. We tend to clutter design with many great elements, taking away from each of them as a whole.
Focus is the key to the design process. You cannot be productive creatively if you are not focused. This idea does not only apply to the process, but to the design thinking, ideation, creation, and implementation, as well as the environment you work in. It applies to everything, even your life.

It all starts with planning. You have to create a plan and a time line for your project, no matter how small of a project it is. Next, you have to follow it. Break it down to the day, to the hour.
Make the clutter organized. Every step of the project should be beautiful.
Get inspired by the pro’s. Make a collective inventory of your inspiration. Then use it as a footstool.
Be intentional. It has to be “cool” for a reason. If you are meeting with a client, you need to have an answer for every “why” from the font to the color to the page size.
Don’t neglect any detail. Don’t underestimate the power of a grid system. Use your guides.
Don’t forget simplicity. If you can take it away and it still works, it’s unnecessary. Less is more.

Inspiration for the day: Simplicity in action: