Achieving a Constant state of Design Readiness

My former lecturer in design used to say that designers need to get into a state of readiness before they can become productive in design work or concept sketching. Some designers require more time, some require less. Some require going through fifty sketches, some require five sketches. Therefore the time required for each designer to get into that productive state is different. The trick is to know what is yours.
The young designers and the designers fresh out of school often require longer times to get into Design Readiness. The problem is most give up before they get there. Fortunately, like wine, it does get better with age. This is one of the reasons also why experienced designers are highly sort after, their ability to come up with ideas quick.
It gets better; you can train your self to be in a state of Design Readiness. There are many different techniques and you have to find what works best for you. However in general, the way to do it is like memorising the times table, every time you discuss design try to visualise how it would look like as a complete product. For example, if you are in a concept review, and some one suggests making your concept longer, sketch that suggestion in your mind. Or if you are flipping through a magazine of surfing the myriad of design aggregators out there and you discover a wonderful material or detail, visualise how it would look like as a product.
Now, it does not have to be 100% perfect visualisation. In fact it would be better to keep it as a sketch visualisation. The next step, though not always necessary, is to get it on to paper to solidify the idea. The thing you really want to do, as my lecturer used to say, is to warm up your creativity or in my example to keep your mind running warm. Just like a warm car engine, it always moves to peak efficiency a lot quicker.
Now here is a challenge, if you really want to stretch your mental engine, think of 3 or more variations of the idea when you get that mental trigger!

  • Paul

    September 18, 2009 at 1:48 am Reply

    PLease tell me more about possible exercises to train, this is fun.
    I know that when I get bored in public traffic I start visualising how I would make a fotograph or how I would draw the scene with marker/pencil etc. This is a good extra for me.
    I seems to me we can do this a lot with “wasted waiting times” during the day improving our skills and having fun making the time passing faster

  • drew kora

    September 15, 2007 at 5:41 am Reply

    yeah that makes sense. just keeping you on your toes man. i actually agree with your 20 minute assessment quite well…though my interval is more like every other hour instead of 20 minute spurts. when i’m on i’m on, when i’m not i’m not. there’s no denying it. though i think being design ready is an art each person has to learn and it comes naturally.
    …though i wonder if self-awareness of this fact has intensified it…like, I look at the clock and say “well, it’s been an hour so i think i’ll check my e-mail, file some papers, and make some phone calls instead of designing anymore.” thanks. >: ( ha. i’m nuts.
    back on topic: this visualization method you suggest is something that I think I do, but it’s not structured…it’s just my natural brainstorming. I’m going to try mroe focused imaginings and see where it takes me.

  • DT

    September 14, 2007 at 8:42 pm Reply

    Hi guys,
    Sorry for the late reply. I have been very busy with work.
    @Drew, firewalker has hit it on nail right on the head. Readiness is all about getting into the zone. Once in the zone it operates in cycles of 20 mins at a time. You mind is like a warm car engine, you can’t expect it to operate flat out all the time.
    @firewalker, plagiarism is reproducing work in exactly the same manner or form as another. The way to avoid it, which is what I think you are trying to get at, is to treat it as an inspiration but then sufficiently develop it with your own design input. To be safe it is always good practice to cite your source or inspiration.
    Some have said there is no such thing as an original design, just inspirations of other things before it.

  • Firewalker

    September 14, 2007 at 6:31 pm Reply

    I think the 20 minutes that DT said in the is just an example of how long your Design Readiness state is. Each person have different duration in their state, just like this DT’s lecturer taught.
    To make the state constant or even to increase the duration is the real challenge for every designer. I don’t know how you measure the duration of your Design Readiness state (because when we were in the state, I don’t think we can divert our attention), but I estimates that my Design Readiness state appears only at a blink of an eye. I’m still too green for the industry, but I like to dwell with it.
    Since you (DT) also wrote that “Or if you are flipping through a magazine of surfing the myriad of design aggregators out there and you discover a wonderful material or detail, visualise how it would look like as a product.”, then I have an idea to make a design based on what I found, does this considered as plagiarism?
    Thank you for the tips.

  • drew kora

    September 13, 2007 at 8:13 pm Reply

    Good poitns, DT. Mental preparation is essential.
    But now you have me curious…How do you balance your approach to ‘constant design readiness’ with your observation that designers (or other creatives) are only on the ball 20 minutes out of each hour?
    “…not many people realise but creativity and inspiration comes in waves. It

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