How I see design in The Beatles’ documentary

This is a personal reflection on how industrial design process is very similar to many different creative processes.

I am one of the music enthusiast who has recently saw “Get Back“, the documentary about The Beatles when they were asked to do a rare live performance after 3 years of inactivity. In the meantime they created all the songs of the “Let it be” album (1970).

The Beatles had to create a full album, play a concert and be part of a film. All of that in 21 days with the best inspiration and quality that everyone expects from such a band.
It was an intense work made day by day from 9 am to 6 pm that they did with great talent and simplicity. Everything seemed easy, but we must not forget that this is not normal job, it is a creative job. You just not go from point A to point B, but you need to create a superb product starting from zero.

My personal tribute illustration to John Lennon.

A brief explanation of the design process (in case you are not a designer)

Watching the documentary I noticed that the process was very similar to the one industrial designers face all the time. If we try to think of a standard design process we usually have this pattern:


A designer has the task to create a specific new product in a certain amount of time (BRIEFING). To do that he/she tries to fully dive with things, images and places that can inspire to create something innnovative and never seen before (RESEARCH). This research places something inside you that is there to extract new ideas (INSPIRATION).

An idea by itself is not enough, to be great it needs to fully evolve in detail. Imagine that you are designing a chair, you can not simply sketch it and say “wow, this is good, love it”, you have to give a shape to that, try different solutions and select the best option to give value to your idea. Then it comes the prototype (REALIZATION), where you phisically see, test the product and make final decisions (TESTING). Once it is ready, the product goes in production and it gets ready to be sold around the world (DISTRIBUTION) while people judge if what you have done worth their attention.

Do you see any analogy?

Let’s talk about The Beatles side

The request of making such a performance (album, documentary and live) is crearly a BRIEF and The Beatles created the environment to make it (see the series to fully understand it). There is also a clear example of how the combo RESEARCH + INSPIRATION gets in action. George Harrison one day went in the rehearsal room saying that he saw on the BBC channel a program where people were dancing a walzer. If you know a bit about music, you may know that the walzer has a particular timing, he took that timing to create the main theme of “I, me, mine” and it’s done, they had a rough song.

When they later went to the recording studio (REALIZATION), they took all the ideas they had and arrange them properly, also with the help of external musicians and all their staff.
Then they recordered the songs.

Listening to the finished song on tape helped them to actually realize what was good and what was not. This helped them to finalize everything and approve a song or tape it again (TESTING).
Once the album were ready they prepared the live performance and the songs started getting distributed all around the world (DISTRIBUTION).
See the documentary and share with me by email some more reflections about design process.

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Just for curiosity, this illustration has been done using only circles.