Be Curious. Be Clear.
Just Dive In.
The Designer's Circle is simple. It's about asking questions. Questions that allow the design process to unfold in a manner that pushes you. The cycle leads you to your best solutions and your best work.
Start at the top of the Circle. Collect information and surround yourself with inspiration. Ask questions and search for answers. What is your message? What are trying to communicate? Who is your audience? What are they like? What do they want? What is the feel you are looking for? What emotion are you trying to evoke? Let your curiosity lead you to more specific questions. Questions that can only be discovered as you dive into the specific problems you are facing. As you begin asking the right questions clarity will emerge and a plan will begin to unfold.
With a clear understanding of your message and your content, it's time to dive in and engage the right side of your brain. Release the controlling left brain (logic, data, structure) to let free the expressive right. But you are not winging it in the dark. You've built a reservoir of knowledge from which your right brain can now pull from subconsciously. You've done the heaving lifting, so you are free to explore creative solutions without inhibition.
After you've freely explored many creative design solutions it's time to step back and reengage your left brain. Limitation and logic become your friend. Be honest with yourself and re-ask the questions you formulated in the research and planning phase. Are you answering these questions and reaching the goals you set out? Be bold, and pick your design apart. More importantly, have others - trusted colleagues or coworkers on the project - pick it apart. Together, analyze your solutions with objectivity and honesty. Meaningful feedback will make a good design great.
Once you've completed one cycle its time to begin the process again. Start at the top. Regroup and rethink. Create greater clarity by going back to the drawing board. Tweak. Refine. Even re-design completely if necessary. Sometimes your best ideas come at your first sitting. Sometimes it's your last. Let the Designer's Circle guide you to that place where brilliant ideas are born. The cycle continues until you have answered all the questions and there is nothing more to add or remove.
The Designer's Circle embraces structure, yet it is not a formula. It doesn't tell you what to do step by step. Its intention is not to reproduce the same results time after time, but rather to keep you open, curious, and to push you towards your best solutions.
As you flow through the Circle, its structure allows the 'creative design block' to be nonexistent. If there is a 'block', simply move backwards in the Circle. Go out and research some more. Ignite your curiosity and be inspired. Reevaluate from a distance, and see the bigger picture. Are you asking the right questions?
On the contrary, if you are feeling overconfident and in love with your idea, be skeptical. Take a step forward in the Circle and get thoughtful feedback from others. Your idea may be great, but perhaps something has been overlooked. Take a step back and find out.
As we let the Designer's Circle guide us and remember to be curious, to embrace limitation, creative freedom, and thoughtful criticism we give ourselves the opportunity to create our best work.