Notes on Design Process: Expectations

Expectations matter.

“Clients seem to get the advertising they deserve. The good ones, they’re risk takers. They’re willing to risk failures for extraordinary success. The bad clients? Fear dribbles down from the top. No one says so, in so many words, but you know no risks will be tolerated, no rules will be broken, that mediocrity is the measure by which your work will be weighed.’”
[Luke Sullivan quoting Lois Korey in: Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Advertising]

“Price and audience are not compelling motivators. Your sense of quality is.”
[Twyla Tharp and Jesse Kornbluth, The Collaborative Habit]

That being said:
1 For better and for worse, treat creative collaboration as an opportunity to challenge the status quo. Yet, be deliberate on where you want to start.
2 Design process should always accommodate continuous experimentation. A process that does not allow for validation of a premise makes unnecessary bets on design.
3 There’s a difference between purpose and practice. There’s no design without a purpose. Practice without a clear goal is called decoration.
4 There’s no excuse for bad design.

[img: Pae White: Oslo Opera House Curtain]

Notes on Design Process: Intent, not instruction

Noam Chomsky divided ignorance into either problems or mysteries. “When we face a problem, we may not know its solution, but we have insight, increasing knowledge, and an inkling of what we are looking for.” We know how to find the solution or at least where to search for it. When we face a mystery, however, we can only stare in wonder and bewilderment, not knowing what an explanation would even look like.

Since we have never developed practical tools for creativity that would constantly deliver newness and value, we tend to treat creative process as a mystery. We think of generating ideas in terms of serendipitous, epiphanic and arbitrary decisions and luck rather than a process involving skill, experience and craft. With nothing but the luck of the draw as a prevailing methodology, a great deal of the process is devoted to negotiating ideas, aspirations and tastes of various stakeholders. Yet design is all about imagination disciplined to resolve a specific problem or circumstance, not random acts of brainstorming.

Contrary to intuition and creative egalitarianism introduced by design thinking, ideas are becoming the most overestimated element of a design process. Good ideas are essential but scarce. Good and novel ideas that a) are not based on incremental innovation b) reinvent a product or service regardless of execution, are almost non-existent. Read More