My process differs slightly on personal projects—but not too much. I think it boils down to a matter of mindset. On personal projects, the objective isn’t to solve a particular problem, sell a product, or make someone take action. It’s more about executing a personal thought or emotion, and the results don’t necessarily matter.
I’m not entirely sure that I do.
I’d challenge the reliance of objectivity within the design process. Design must serve a purpose but I believe it must also mean something to the designer.
As designers we use process models to simplify and to refine what we do, but if we accurately map how we work, our actions rarely match the model. The design process is not an absolute; as it has to remain flexible to the user. My own design process informs my work, and in turn my work informs my design process. Without that two-way relationship we become just facilitators of the model. I think we are more than just facilitators.
What do you do when a client insists on deviating from your creative process? How much lattitude do you give a client in this area, and when do you push back?
I try to allow client collaboration within my process. This hopefully removes the “deviation” and they feel they are part of the process, taking ownership in the results. Most clients desire to shortcut things due to time constraints. A process can still be achieved even if it shortened—abandoning the process is never a good idea. However, setting expectations on the front end of a project is always the best solution. Agreeing on the process allows for intervention at a later point and a gentle reminder of the necessary steps to success. Developing a project using these methods removes the subjectivity within the creative process and ensures the professional environment between the client and the designer. Alas, we don’t live in a perfect world and at times we can choose to educate our clients and hope for growth, or realize an unhealthy relationship and walk away. Freedom of choice is an awesome thing.
Do you believe in global design? Do you think the unification of communicational codes is a positive or negative phenomenon? Do multinational companies, with their “neutral design”, attack or destroy cultural diversity?
With these visual design borders softening, it’s a great thing when we’re talking about the unification of signage and a shared visual language—especially when it comes to things like safety and wayfinding systems. The prime example of something like this is the wordless IKEA instructions. Say what you will about the quality of their furniture, but the non-verbal visual language they employ is impressive. However, it is kind of sad to see the slow demise of regional design styles and trends. Whereas 15 years ago, you could look at a piece of design and have a good idea that it came out of the Minneapolis area. Now, visual trends (especially in identity design) are no longer limited to borders because of Internet’s connectivity, and because of that, they seem to burn themselves out even more quickly.
How much of the inspiration for your work would you say comes from the client? Yourself/creative team? Or something entirely external (muse, etc.)?
When I work in a new layout, I always take the client’s vision into account. I don’t believe in inspiration as a mystic phenomenon. I’ll translate it into the designer’s ability to understand the commercial needs, use the resources of the category and combine them in order to achieve impact in the consumers. With this point of view, the client becomes an essential part in the creative process. My team and I think the client’s vision is a deciding factor, and there is no doubt that it contributes, in a lesser or greater way, to the aesthetic definition of all our projects.
What constitutes an original idea, based on a similar concept? What is your stance on borrowing ideas from what others have done? When does it get too close to stealing?
Originality is something people like to talk about a lot. And we all have our own hopes centered around it. It’s an artist / designer preoccupation, one that makes you feel very proud or very ashamed as the case may be. Because of this preoccupation, it’s important to remember in the context of this discussion that whatever we’re doing, it most likely came from somewhere else. This is not a cop-out. The evidence is in every freshman art history class if you’re paying attention. We can’t avoid ‘borrowing’ ideas from others. It happens naturally with both visual and non-visual input. So, in the sense that we all stand on someone’s shoulders, there’s a certain amount of inevitability.