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What shape is it?

A compelling way to examine the design process is through experts' perceptions of the shape of its course. Is it round? Or maybe linear? The answers are delightfully surprising, informative and shed light on how these artists and designers work.

"Bird walking" is what Christine Reilly calls it, as she goes out on the metaphorical branches of a tree, exploring new ideas. Seeing her describe this with her statuesque physique adds to the effect of "going out on a limb."

To Marc English, it's a spiral, as one digs deep into rabbit holes. As designers, we need to know what kind of rabbits we're dealing with, while exploring how long their fur is, the details of their dens, what they eat, and how they relate to each other.

"I always think of design as amorphous and always changing in shape. Non-linear and the edges are sometimes ill-defined. But, somewhere in the center, after exploring those edges, you find the heart of it. Much like an amoeba." So eloquently said by Clay Little, from NoackLittle architecture and interiors.

When I asked Marc Bove of the Bommarito Group to explain their process, he drew a line and then on top of it, wavy twists and turns. This representation exemplifies how we seemingly get off course when we're really still on it while meandering and exploring. Sometimes we need to go back, as there is no cheating and no skipping steps in the design process. Otherwise the price we pay in wasted time and resources makes for very unhappy clients and effects everybody's bottom line. And sleep.

"Like a crystalline formation...", says the creative Paul Dybiec, as he explains "...the explosion of quartz crystal. The form reaches in all directions, as all points are necessary. Some reach farther than others because some directions require distance or width or several points reaching together. It's also that place Superman went to get all the information about his existence."

The shape of my design process is a round ball of rubber bands, all joined together, flexing and working together to solidify their form, much like the ingredients that make up the design process: designer, client, vendors, fresh ideas, timelines, budgets, assets, photographs, illustrations, content, keywords, paper and pencil and hundreds of other components. Put them all together, then watch that baby bounce!

Tell us the shape of your process!

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