As a designer, I am always interested in how other designers out there process and organize their ideas - ideas that start as loose concepts that get tweaked and finessed over time into a final design concept. Of course, we all follow the same design process - programming, schematic design, design development.... - but we all work a little differently, especially when we begin developing schematic layouts and design features. While developing idea boards for a project this week, I thought, why not share some of my own design processes and how I find inspiration and translate my ideas into a final concept.
Always Have a Sketchbook Handy
I keep these everywhere! In my work bag, in the glove box of my car, on my nightstand. I may not even be thinking of a particular project or client, but if I see or think of something interesting or inspiring, I have to have a sketch book close by to jot it down or it’s long forgotten. Often, when beginning a new project, I'll skim through some of my sketches before I ever get started. These sketchbooks especially lend themselves whenever I’m having a designer block moment - I'll just take a time-out and flip through my sketches to gain a fresh perspective.
OneNote Idea Boards
I LOVE Microsoft OneNote. It’s where I take everything in my mind and pour it onto one page. For anyone other than myself glancing through it, it’s a mess to make sense of, but it’s my go-to tool during the schematic design phase of any project. Once I have a general direction in my mind, I begin to collect images online of products, import floor plans, and begin to sketch architectural features. I throw all of this into OneNote and begin making notes and generating loose sketches as a way to get every thought out of my mind as quickly as possible without loosing any information. It’s essentially a mix of inspiration images and my own sketches and notes compacted into one document, and because OneNote allows you to create sections and pages within your notebook, I can devote a section to every project I’m working on, generating additional pages to refine ideas as I work my way through the design process. It's also a great collaboration tool - easily shared with other OneNote users.
Step Away From Your Computer
Searching Google or Pinterest for inspiration images can be an easy way to get started but sometimes it’s overwhelming... or in some instances underwhelming. I tend to find my inspiration in the real world. Something as simple as a walk around the block or trying out a new restaurant for lunch -anything that’s a change of my everyday working environment, and is visually stimulating, helps me channel new concepts.