The How and Why of Design

“Always the more beautiful answer who ask the more beautiful question.” -E.E. Cummings

Wow. Can we just take a second to ponder that statement? Let it ruminate.

The more strategic we are with our questions, the more purposeful our outcome will be. As creatives, we cannot undermine the power of clever ideation. We have to design with tact, for a mission, solving a problem.

If I am not careful, I can catch myself fixating on the style and execution of a design, rather than identifying the meaning behind why I am designing something in the first place. Instead of asking, “how can I make this look?” I have to consciously redirect my workflow to “why is this design necessary for the message I am trying to convey;” “what is the purpose of this element of design;” “how is this design solving the problem at hand?”

Like a painter is up close for the details then steps back to critically take in the entire painting, we as creatives need to do the same. Skill and execution are extremely important and much more visually apparent at your end product, but without addressing the “why” of your design, your work can easily fall flat. Creative block can seep in. Knowing the purpose of your design allows you to begin creating even if inspiration isn’t striking you at that specific moment. Strategic planning allows you to play without the need for knowing exactly what the end product will aesthetically look like.

Once you get to the root of why you are designing, set parameters for yourself — strict boundaries to work within. Explore aesthetic. Try different directions. But keep that core message at the top of mind. Because without purpose, there is no reason to even design.

“Do not make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both, do not hesitate to make it beautiful.” -Proverb