We’re launching a new series that explores the many aspects of daily life that influence our designs. As we release each volume in the series you’ll notice that we often reference “the process”, that is deliberate. We find it interesting that as designers our natural tendency is to hide our process, we don’t want our audience to know the steps it took to arrive at a final thought…we project the idea that our first thought was perfect, as if we are perfect, yet reality is quite the opposite. Our best designs are the product of collaboration. It is the result of our willingness to be influenced by the things we see, hear, and smell, the people we surround ourselves with (our circle) that are chipping away at the same block of ice that we are but from a slightly different vantage point. It’s the applied pressure from our circle that challenge us to do better and be better, even when we get deal fatigue*.
What is most interesting about the concept of “deal fatigue” is that it is a phenomenon only experienced by the designer. The end-user/consumer is never exposed to the steps associated with getting from point A (the beginning), to point B (the end), so this concept is foreign to them.
The consumer in general sees something they like, and they go buy it. The designer in contrast has to create, edit, market, and sell the idea. Think about it – how many different versions of the Air Jordan 3 do you think Tinker Hatfield studied before he pitched Michael Jordan who was at the time frustrated with Nike and considering leaving the brand? The end result was Tinker’s design and it saved the day…the rest is history. How many attempts in material study did it take for famed architect Frank Gehry to arrive at Museo Guggenheim Bilbao? When you think about it, his trajectory toward use of a material that defies gravity started with chain link fence. A very simple, affordable, and readily available sheet good that is pliable in multiple directions. “The process” of study, trial and error eventually led him to the use of titanium which is also a pliable sheet good…but not as readily obtainable, much more expensive, but perfect for the application. The end result is architecture that inspires us to aspire to challenge conventional methodology.
As an owner of an architectural firm, I’ve noticed amongst young talent the hesitancy to expose the process. There’s this gravitational pull toward putting on our headphones and hiding in our cocoons and spending hours upon hours cranking way on what we think is the perfect solution. It almost seems as if what’s really being taught at universities is the idea of self-reliance as a path to success which cheats the process. I’ve seen MANY portfolios in interviews where I look at the finished product and think to myself “wow, this is impressive”, only to realize that the individual was working in their cocoon all by themselves for the better part of a year to produce something that in real-time we’d have to produce in a couple of weeks. It’s the most difficult adjustment for young talent to make…the transition from theory to real-time which is about twenty times faster.
I’ve concluded that the cocoon that we all gravitate toward climbing in as a default is really our safe place that protects us from vulnerability. I think the people most successful at breaking boundaries, innovating, and generating new ideas are the people who are OK with exposing their vulnerability. Those that are OK with looking a little weird or sounding a little crazy. They are not afraid to be excited or show genuine emotion for the people around them that are exploding with talent. They let their fears push them ahead rather than stand in front of them and impede forward progress. The “Design Is Everywhere” series is our gesture of stepping outside of our cocoon and exposing you to the things we encounter on a daily basis that inspire us, the people in our circle that push us, the highs of challenging the market and our competitors, the inevitable lows of missing the mark, and yes – the occasional occurrence of crazy.
We are not afraid…let’s get it!
Stay tuned for Volume 02 of “Design Is Everywhere” – Sportswear Passion.
* Deal fatigue is a term used to describe the point of mental and physical exhaustion when working on a project because for various reasons often out of the designer’s control, the project seems as if it will not come to completion.
Lee Frommelt – Copy Editor