Designer’s block

Published: 22 October, 2014

Categories: General

Designer’s block

Every year, the Southern Right Whale migrates thousands of kilometres past the coast of South Africa from the cold arctic. The Cape Sand Frog, on the other hand, spends the cold months burrowed safely under the sand in hibernation.

We’ve all reached that dreaded designer’s block, where you either have no ideas whatsoever, or everything starts looking like something you’ve already done – or worse, something someone else has done. Moving across the globe or sleeping away your life is not what we have in mind, but drastic measures are often needed in order to get the best result, and drastic doesn’t necessarily mean hard. In fact, some of these drastic measures are quite simple. All you need to do is pull the plug.

No! Don’t can your project. We’re talking about technology. Take that power supply and unplug it.

You will need technology for most of your project, there is also a part of your project for which technology is completely unnecessary. Of course you can consult the internet, and use your multiple technological resources when researching your topics of interest, but more often than not, technology could hamper the free flow of ideas which is so crucial during conceptualisation.

Think of it this way; you are working on a design element, but cannot seem to get something original. You try heading on over to the internet, but everything in front of your eyes has been designed by someone else. Even the curves of the letters of that particular font you are reading came from someone else’s mind. So what do you do? You close your laptop.

You cover your monitor with a towel. Out of frustration you look up at the heavens… which, on this occasion is actually your ceiling.  Suddenly you notice all the amazing natural curves, lines, knots and hues of the wood, and you remember how you used to daydream things out of those shapes as a child, just like you used to do when watching clouds. So you doodle some of those shapes down on your notepad (remember what a notepad is?)…

Then you watch as your cat does the most amazing yoga stretch on your lap. And you draw an outline of this ridiculous yoga cat on your note pad. You accidentally put your coffee down on top of your notepad, and, ugh, it’s stained the paper.  But wait, no, it actually looks kinda cool. You hear your doorbell, and as you walk down the stairs to the door and take off the chain to open you’re thinking that your yoga cat needs a chain and your doodle needs some stairs. So you get back and you draw those. And you repeat some of the patterns you’ve drawn. You exaggerate some of them, warp others and before you know it you’ve got a chained yoga cat stairwell coffee stain on knotty pine. And it doesn’t look like either of those things individually, but collectively, you have something quirky. And for the first time you can say, for sure, that no one has done this before.

What now? You switch your laptop on again, take those individual components and google them. You search for yoga cat, cat chain, chain knot, stair cat, wood coffee, coffee cat and every other combination of those words you can think of and see where those searches lead (you will find some interesting things). Now you take the brand name for the project you were working on and see what happens when you try tie that to your searches. And so you go on until you have more ideas to elaborate on. See where we’re headed with this?

You can try this anywhere you’re at – under a tree, in the bath (laptops and macbooks aren’t advisable there anyway), on your bed, in the car. It’s really just about opening your eyes and seeing what’s out there.