Work it Out

All too often in my observations of the working habits of design students, I see too much of a reliance on technology. They will give up because the software can’t do what they envisioned. They give up on a concept and relinquish their vision to a software algorithm. This is what makes the difference between pedestrian designers and incredible designers. Incredible designers push their own limits and knowledge with their tools. Pedestrian designers give up and let their tools dictate their design. Designers have to find their own breakthroughs—they have to work it out.

In cases like this, I often remember a quote from the great John Wooden (legendary UCLA basketball coach), “Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.”

By making the best of how things work out doesn’t mean you let things just happen. You must put in the work. You have to work it out. By putting in the work, you have more of a chance of creating something incredible. Draw the extra sketches. Explore more colors combos and type combos. Create more concepts. Only then will you be rewarded with incredible design solutions.

Elegant solutions only come from working out the problem.


Tension and Compression

In my day-to-day duties, I often illustrate parts of the human body for the medical device industry. Hold here, place there, tug here, press, pull, etc… An interesting observation about illustrating the human body is that the most telling information about its form is where parts stretch (tension) and where parts come together (compression).

When things are in tension, there are no extra lines to indicate more information–details aren’t conveyed and what we need to know is masked–muscles are pulled in opposite directions. This parallel with our experiences in life seem to be rather interesting. When we experience tension, there’s so much that we hide from ourselves and our loved ones. We often feel pulled in opposite directions–painful.

An interesting phenomenon happens, though. Where there is tension, there is compression (usually opposite from where tension is located). This is where the most information can be seen–muscles come together and create lines of information that indicates information about form. The same thing happens within ourselves. There is a source of compression when we experience tension that we can start to understand more about ourselves. We just have to look at the other side.

It’s only when we lead a balanced life that tension and compression don’t exist–a state of relaxation–a state peace.


Magic and Angelo


As we were discovering the beauty of the Ojai Valley, we came across the library of the late Krishnamurti, a writer and speaker on philosophical and spiritual subjects. We only discovered his library through a CD guided auto tour of the history, industry, and sites to see of Ojai.

Nestled amongst the natural beauty of the Valley, we found even more peace and beauty in the library… and something magical that caught us in a moment of awe. We introduced ourselves to the curator/librarian of the establishment and he introduced us to who and what this great man was about. Lo and behold, as we said our thank you’s, he referred to me as Angelo. It was a moment that we will never forget — Angelo is the name of one of our cats. Something he would never have known. We smiled and walked away with a magical feeling.

This magical feeling is something I strive for when I teach design principles to my students and when I present a wonderful design solution to a client. Design is magical — it creates a sense of awe when it’s principles are applied in new and innovative ways. It’s when you create an environment of peace and beauty that designers can create magic. It’s this magic that creates an emotional/spiritual peace and beauty.

It’s a wonderful cycle to be part of. So let designers be designers and let the magic happen. Give designers the space and peace they need and let the magic happen.

There really is something incredible about being in the Ojai Valley.