16 Feb A design book to fuel
It happens sometimes that you live an episode of your life that may change your perspectives.
Well, it sounds dramatic, actually it’s not. In these few words I want to share an episode that really fueled my craving for design.
I was an undergraduate in product design, it was the time where I was spending all my afternoons and evenings in the lab making prototypes (I was not that good at it, so I needed to learn).
In that period I hadn’t realized what I was doing and I was looking for answers all around me, especially the fact that I had to make models by hand was not so clear: when I first approached design school I was attracted by 3d models and fancy renderings. So why was I spending so much time sanding polystyrene?
My lab teacher probably noticed that something was not clear and one day he showed the class a precious book: “The Making of Design” by Gerrit Terstiege.
Try to imagine, it was more or less 2008, social were taking place but those were more a showcase for short jokes, so we didn’t have access to all these cool work in progress from design studios profiles, and they were there, in that book: Bouroullec bros, Kostantin Grcic, Stefan Diez and others showing the real process behind some of their most successful products at the time.
It blew my mind, suddenly all the polystyrene dust on my clothes had a sense. I saw many models from those designers that were wrong or a failure, but those were not wasted time, it was evidence of progress. It was a first step to truly understand the slowness and the accuracy of the job I was in prospect of doing.
As I said, the book was precious to my teacher, so I had the occasion to browse it just once.
When I graduated I flew to GB to work in design studios and I was a frequent visitor of the Design Museum of London and boom, “The Making of Design” was there in their bookshop. Finally my design bible was in my hands.
I know every line of that book and I was admiring those designers creating some of my favorite objects in a way I really can’t understand, so I started to imitate them. Need a volume mock-up? Use paper. Want to test sitting? Use polystyrene. Not sure about dimensions? Do a 1:1 printing.
Sounds banal now after 10 years running my business, but at the time everything was new to me.
When I was in highschool I had a rockband and I wanted to write my own songs, but I had no idea how to do it. So I started making covers of songs I liked, tried to understand the process and started making my own songs.
More or less I did the same with design, first imitating to then find my own way of doing things.
See, imitate, elaborate, release.
Needless to say that this process had so many failures that I can not even count, but those made the difference and helped me to find my own way of doing things.
That book helped me to understand that my design myths are not superheroes who came from another planet, but people with a clear goal in their mind and a plan to achieve it. So I am trying to be one of them.
If you are looking for more inspiring articles about design, check it out “Positive Nostalgia”, a short analysis on Philippe Starck’s work.