Design Theory 3: What is the BIG idea?
Tired of randomly creating styles and forms? Stuck at the same looking sketch over and over again? Tired of flipping through magazines or clicking on the internet? Tired of creating designs that just do not seem to inspire others or go any where?
Chances are your concept is missing the BIG idea. That’s right; this differentiates the men from the boys, the next cool product from the next dud, and most importantly a timeless classic from a dated styling exercise.
Some of the best and most successful designs out there; may it be a product, a graphic or even a webpage, would have been developed by having a “big idea” behind it.
Do you see the famous arrow?
Is that not a nice pebble?
So what exactly is a big idea? It’s an idea or concept at a “helicopter” view. A very high level and big picture thinking design strategy. It could be an overriding concept, a theme, or even a source of inspiration. However the tricky part is ensuring that the big idea is relevant to the design problem at hand. To be safe, do ensure that the “big ideas” are grounded and related with ether your brand, target market, design language or global trend. Otherwise it will be a shallow association and you will create very literal products such as “this cup was inspired by a palm tree”.
Example of a literal design
How would it be fair if I can talk about other people without taking a poke at myself? Here are 3 TVs that I program managed, worked on and collaborated with 4-5 other designers. To our defense, we had no choice as our client wanted the products this literal. At the end of the day we decided our stomachs are more important and spend most of the time making it the nicest literal products you could find!
So the next time you are stuck in a design, or sketching aimlessly, just ask yourself, “what is the big idea of this design?”