Idea Searching for Design: How to Research and Develop Design Concepts, Second Edition
By David Bramston and Yeli
Just Imagine if it were Possible
Evolving the Reality
Diverse conscious and subconscious experiences provide a unique, ongoing mental catalogue of references capable of assisting the generation of ideas if encouraged to do so. A continual journey of experiencing the familiar along with the unfamiliar naturally broadens the imagination.
All experiences are viable encounters for this purpose, and often it is those that at first appear to be too abstract or irrational which become the essential catalyst for the most interesting suggestions and directions in the end. Everyone has their own set of experiences, and an opportunity to engage in dialogue with others who are both within and beyond one’s immediate circle of associates encourages creative variance and can further stimulate authentic thinking. In the initial stages of idea generation everyone is different, and everyone has a different take on things due to the exclusivity of their personal backgrounds.
The ability to engage the senses as critical tools and to attempt to see things in an alternative context rather than being mentored or escorted by any inherent mental baggage and preconceived values encourages original thought. The French novelist and social commentator Marcel Proust (1871–1922) recognised the importance of “seeing with new eyes,” a view echoed by Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), who commented that “it is not what you look at that, matters it is what you see.”
The ability to see what others overlook is a trait of many successful designers. David Kelley at IDEO believes it is possible to see something original in a situation that has perhaps become too familiar, and it is this capacity to discover and take inspiration from everywhere that is so important. Things do talk if the observer is prepared to listen.
The Mitate lamps designed by Studio Wieki Somers (2013) combine culture and objects in arrangements that communicate multiple messages to the observer. This reinterpretation of meaning manages to challenge conventional perceptions. Taking a risk and having a “dare to be different” attitude is necessary if boundaries are to be pushed. The creative designer must aim to occupy the unfamiliar territory that is beyond their usual remit.
The ideas and outputs of designers such as Yvonne Fehling and Jennie Peiz, with works such as Still Lives or Stuhlhockerbank, are distinctive, experimental, and intriguing. The blurring of conventional and unconventional practices and an ability to think differently with a curious mind redefines the boundaries and questions values.
Approaching a problem from an alternative or lateral direction, while remaining in control, assists in the attempt to see things from a removed standpoint.
The Eigruob lamp for Kartell designed by the Japanese studio Nendo (2014) concentrates on the space that surrounds the designed object, creating a void in the form of the original Bourgie lamp by Ferruccio Laviani. Exploring the unexpected is both challenging and revealing. Ideas do not have to be overly complicated to be alluring and wonderful. It is important to try and keep the thinking process simple.
Interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary approaches provide an insight to alternative means, methods, and ideas. The crosspollination of ideas between creative disciplines or seemingly unrelated disciplines triggers the imagination. It is not always essential to understand what is being observed initially, as it may still prompt thoughts and opportunities. Being outside a comfort zone introduces original cultures and experiences. The exploratory, challenging, and incredible works of designers such as Jannis Huelsen and the Xylinum stool can introduce unexpected elements and inspire atypical thinking.
Idea generation should not be an arduous journey but rather an exploratory path, a pleasurable adventure, where the failure and collapse of a thought is recognized and ultimately considered as contributing to a success. The confidence to make a mistake is a valuable characteristic of many experimenters in the search for a viable outcome and was recognized by Danish designer Verner Panton (1926–1998), who stated that “a failed experiment can be more important than a trivial design,” a sentiment that echoed French sculptor Rodin, who originally stated “nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.”
Idea Searching for Design has engaged international artists, designers, and educators to explore a broad array of methods and practices associated with the practice of idea generation. The process is often eclectic and sometimes visceral, where ephemeral practices continually inspire and steer thought and process.
Just Imagine if it were Possible
Personal experiences contribute to a broad array of creative triggers that can influence a design journey. Continually absorbed, seemingly random encounters and experiences can become pivotal in identifying credible and compelling directions for the curious. Embracing eclectic practices and appreciating that inspiration often assists with the generation of ideas.