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Turning an idea into a tangible result — Illustration by TEAMS

Design Philosophy 101

How does one turn a conceptual idea into a tangible result?

But how does one take the steps towards a tangible concept? How do you translate an idea, a philosophy, a feeling, into the physical world?

For designers, solutions are often preceded by the observation of a contradiction, contrast, or conflict between constraints that are trying to occupy the same space, but without a hierarchy. The creative solution derives from fully understanding the desired concept, exploring possible iterations of the concept and finally finding the balance of elements that were initially in conflict.

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Generating and filtering ideas — Illustration by TEAMS

1. A Philosophy

Philosophy is a way of thinking that generates or filters ideas. It eliminates the need for style as the purpose is found in each form, theme, graphic, and texture. For example, a brand’s look and feel can drive the design decisions, each with the purpose of reinforcing the brand’s attributes. At other times, designers will use their own personal philosophy to drive their decisions. Are they a minimalist or maximalist? Are their ideas inspired by art, nature, or mathematics? How a person sets the stage for ideas to develop is as important as having the idea itself. With this philosophy, one can see the proper hierarchy or priority of the items in conflict.

2. Refinement of the idea

The clarification of the idea via iterative sketching and simple models steers an initial idea towards its final form while maintaining the original philosophy which was defined in the beginning. Here’s where things get messy and the ideas fight it out with the constraints. Do the results inspire or surprise you? How can the happy accidents that happen during the process confirm your original intent? Can a smaller scale help in finding the solution to a larger more complex concept?

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Refinement of the idea and Realization — Illustration by TEAMS

3. Realization

Now is the time to realize it. Creating 3D sketch mockups (physical and/or printed) will quickly provide results that can be analyzed and compared with others. Does it work as designed or are the elements off-balance in some way? Will placing the elements in a different configuration lead to better user experience or detract from the message you wish to convey?

The end customer is often able to perceive the thought and attention to detail that goes into turning an abstract idea into a tangible result.

The natural solution will seem obvious and effortless, like Theo’s “living” animals gliding across the surf. One notices the motion that is achieved in the animals and in capturing the abstract idea of what life is: movement.

This article was Written by Cliff Kräpfl, Creative Director at TEAMS Design Chicago.

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TEAMS is one of the world’s leading design agencies. TEAMS is not just a name — it’s our attitude!

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