Operational Skills required to realise a design


“we know the truth not only through our reason, but also through our heart. It is through the latter that we know first principles, and reason, which has nothing to do with it, tries in vain to refute them” – Blaise Pascal (1623-62)

The first Accademia del disengo (Academy of Design) was founded in Italy in 1563. A century before Blaise Pascal, a French philosopher, writer and mathematician offered the quote above. Its emblem was three intertwined circles which represented the unity of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. In Italian “Designo” means “Intent”. Ideation is vital not only to creative thought, but also to invention, ingenuity, imagination and originality, it is the intent – the truth of the essence of the thought- that constitutes the real value of the final product.

“Before the Renaissance, Creative Artists and Artisans made things that reflected their manual skills. But as knowledge developed in the period of enlightenment, it was recognised that other intellectual percepts – perspective, geometry, proportion, for example – should be included in the creative endeavour. Plans or models were necessary to express the intent in Architecture. Drawings were essential to explain the intent in furniture, furnishing, textiles, clothes and the decorative arts. The initial explanation of intent – the design – was elevated and separated from manual execution.” 1

For a design to evolve, first and foremost there has to be a necessity for it. And it is necessitated when designers search for a solution when dealing with a problem. Lets take a hypothetical scenario of a designer designing a high chair, for a toddler to have meals with the adult members of his family. This is a simple yet typical example of a problem to which a designer will have to come up with a solution for. Before realising the aesthetics of his design, the designer will have to consider the ergonomics and the anthropometric factors which would constitute his design.

The chair would have to be of a height which would be more than that of a normal chair, since it will have to accommodate a small being and give him the opportunity of being able to comfortably take part in the family dinner with the elders in the family.

Then comes the safety factor, the materials used for the product must be non toxic; the shape it takes must be devoid of sharp edges and must be flexible enough to accommodate the various postures a toddler may take.

Having overcome these hurdles, the designer has another very sensitive issue to tackle – colour. The designer has with him a choice of infinite number of colour combinations, some of which may hold the child in a mutually beneficial manner, i.e. whilst keeping the child happy and content they may also maintain the chairs aesthetic beauty and some others which may drag the child into an irritating mood. To achieve positive reactions from the child, it is imperative that the designer has a proper understanding of the child psychology, as it is for the child that the chair is designed for – and not for the designer himself. In a macro scale, this reflects the aspect of understanding the profile of the client.

It doesn’t end here – the designer may have come with an absolutely brilliant design for a product which may look effulgent when kept in isolation or segregation, but the essence of its beauty radiates only when it perfectly merges with the environment it co-exists with.

Finally, but definitely not off less importance, the design has to be within the budget of the client.

Therefore it is incumbent for the designer to consider the physical, psychological, societal and financial aspects prior to realising his design.

The need and nature of the client has a very demanding influence in the outcome of the design. More often than not, the client knows his requirement but not the fruit that suffices that requirement; it is to fulfil this requirement that he seeks the consultancy of a designer.

I.M.Pei, the celebrated Architect who has to his credit the glass pyramid at the Louvre, is quoted in a special issue of the Fortune Magazine , as saying –
“It makes two to make good architecture – a savvy client and a creative architect”.2

A savvy client would definitely be catalytic to the design process. But what if the Client is not so savvy, and doesn’t understand the design and construction process? It is at this juncture that the skill of the designer in convincing the client comes into play. The designer not only has to be armed with his conceptual drawings, sketches and 3D renderings, but he must also posses the confidence and skills in convincing the client of the effectiveness and importance of choosing his unique design.

To realise a design, the most important facet yet, that the designer must posses is “intuition”. This characteristic varies from designer to designer, and may be the very factor why a design signature is unique to each other, just like the finger prints all designers would have in the tip of their fingers.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia in the internet defines Intuition thus :
“Intuition is an immediate form of knowledge in which the knower is directly acquainted with the object of knowledge. Intuition differs from all forms of mediated knowledge, which generally involve conceptualizing the object of knowledge by means of rational/analytical thought processes (and, hence, placing a mediating idea or concept between the knower and the known).”

Therefore it is evident by the above quote that, a designer has to thoroughly involve himself with his work in mind, body and soul to blossom this creative ability which realises a design, which would make him different to his peers.

“ One characteristic designers are said to have is intuition. This is the Silver Bullet that confuses their observers and clients. Intuition means understanding self – evident truths that others cannot grasp. If those who stand on the outside of the design world could understand that this complicated, often inexplicable creative ability comes from the heart- which we all share – we could build bridges to ever more scintillating, successful relationships.” 3


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