Always be looking for:
Observation vs. Analysis
The meme to the right is so true: as creative people, designers are constantly trying to envision solutions! And that's great...sometimes. However, during this observant phase, it's important you don't slip into planning, analyzing, and projecting future ideas onto what you see. Do your best to stay present, and focus on learning as much as you can about what is happening on y our site right now, and what has happened there in the past. We'll get to the future soon enough!
Perspectives Exercise: Zoom in, Zoom out, Birdseye, Wormseye
Go outside and do this exercise:
First, find a flower. Any flower, as long as you can see it clearly and up close. Don’t pick it! Look at it for a moment. What colors did you see? How many petals? Were there seeds? Pollen? Look away, then back at the flower.
Look deeper this time. Zoom in. What do you see that you missed before? More detail? Tiny parts you hadn’t noticed? Look for the microcosm, the tiny community within a community within that flower. Search for details and clues to a pattern.
Zoom in once more, now adding layers of time. What did this flower look like two weeks ago? What will it look like in a month?
Next, zoom out. Where does the flower get support? What type of stem and leaves does it have? Is it in a community with other flowers, other species, insects, plants?
Keep zooming out, to the macrocosm: from seeing your garden in the context of your neighborhood to seeing yourself in the context of the universe, the macrocosm is the big picture. This includes the embedded energy and pollution in every tool and resource that made it possible for this moment to happen.
Looking at the macrocosm means searching for patterns in space and time. Look at all the big things and see how they fit together to make the whole. Look for large-scale patterns and relationships. Try to determine where they go and where they come from by following the connections from one observation to the next. In most cases, these patterns will repeat themselves on each smaller scale, and through them we can find ways to make our small work resonate with the big picture.
Now again, add layers of time to your observation.
Stand up on your tiptoes and look down on the flower. Imagine you’re a bird. What do you see? What are your relationships here? Imagine you’re a cloud. What are your relationships?
Shrink back down and lay on your back looking up at the flower from underneath. How is it different? How is everything different? What new relationships can you discover down here?
Use this perspective-switching technique throughout your design process.
Before moving on to the next step in the design studio, make sure you’ve created these important pieces of your design:
Here's an example of a zones map, from one of our students, Luiza Oliveira. Click the image for a zoomable PDF.