The coquine![design] pocket guide to being a good designer
Although it sounds obvious, it should be stated first: Allow yourself to be creative. Get out of the infamous ‘box’ and leave your comfort zone. Being able to surprise others with new and exciting ideas, shapes and concepts means you’ll have to surprise yourself first. Also, always push the boundaries. It is possible to fail sometimes or not to win a competition. But we’d rather fail for going a bit too far rather than failing for being too timid.
One more thing about creativity. It’s in the word, a creative person creates. So if you don’t wake up in the morning with a new idea (every now and again, without anybody actually asking for it), you’d better find yourself some inspiration quickly
Be curious. Every project is a perfect opportunity to learn something new (of course, any other opportunity should be taken as well)! Feel free to experiment, be open for new fashion or freshly discovered new technologies. Do your networking, the best way to find out about what’s going on is by talking to people. There is of course no obligation to use only the newest and latest, but one should never ignore what’s going on out there!
The skill most closely linked to creativity is being able to see. See things that other people might not see. See the beauty where other people don’t expect it. Find new angles to see things in a new light when everybody thought everything is already old news. And see things that others don’t see because they only exist virtually. There is the theory that most new ideas are already ‘out there’ in the air, but it needs a certain skill to actually see them and make them visible to the rest of us.
Be passionate about what you’re doing. The creative process is like being in love, and the way from a blank sheet of paper to the finished product is inevitably a roller coaster of emotions. This is of course not an invitation to cry when something goes wrong (sometimes happens), but it’s the fire within the designer and generally everybody involved in a project that drives it forward.
Talking about crying: Don’t forget that the ‘duty’ of the designer is to create something that the client will feel good about. It is equally important, that the client will get this ‘feel good’ during the whole design process. There is a very important relationship between the designer and the client (and the project itself), and every rule for making a personal relationship work (trust, respect, etc.) does apply here, too.
Know when to talk, know when to listen. When you’re passionate about your projects like a cup of Italian coffee it’s easy to talk about it. However, there is a moment when a project is only a dream in the client’s head. It’s fundamental that the designer listens closely to what the client dreams or he won’t be able to make this dream come true.
Be a pragmatic perfectionist. No short-cuts. No ‘good enough’. Perfectionism is important and we shouldn’t settle for anything less. However, you’re not god and you don’t have 500 million years to practice. Aim for perfection and deliver a result in time.
Know your place. The designer might be the single source of the spark that brought the project to life. But it takes a whole team of equally passionate, talented and skilled people to turn a design into reality. And it’s a fact that a team only works as well as the communication between all the team members.
Be ambitious. Trouble is, that can be either easy or difficult. If it’s easy it usually means you’re putting yourself in front of the project. Not good. If it’s difficult, you have the right perspective, but of course, there are moment when one should shine a light on one self, too. We believe it’s okay to be a star in the design universe as long as you don’t forget that it’s the project which is the real superstar (oh yes, and the client of course!) There are two reasons why it’s cool to be a star: First, clients like stars, because a name adds value to their project. And second, because you have to be good in what you’re doing to become a star. Nothing wrong about being good, is there?
We mentioned already curiosity. Now we should also mention that you should be interested in what’s going on around you. Be interested in anything related to the project. That’s rather obvious, but we cannot stress it enough. And, above all, be genuinely interested in people. It’s people that the designer’s universe should be turning around. Especially those that you work with.
Talent and a never-ending source of creativity is a good start, but it’s experience that turns youthful exuberance into an asset. Experience can be a designer’s worst enemy when it becomes his comfort zone. But when applying design to the real world, experience is also his best tool, because a good designer dreams with his head in the sky and his feet on the ground… (we might re-think the choice of picture on top of this list!)