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Through the Back Door

Recently someone asked me to design an apron for his business. After some back and forth, I had a clearer idea of what he wanted and started thinking. I pored over graphed motifs from Medieval textiles, paging through for something to start with. Then I worked on adapting the figures to what the customer wanted and what my equipment can weave. All this designing before a thread is woven.

Design is a loaded word.

Design is a verb, “to conceive, to contrive, to invent…to have as a goal or purpose.”

Design is also a noun, “a decorative or artistic work…a visual composition or pattern.”

A design can be a conspiratorial plot or a figure on a business card or a pattern for a dress. Design encompasses every art and craft form, every building plan, every graphic representation. There are whole college programs built around design–none of which I’ve taken.

Planning in the works

Planning in the works

To be honest, design can be intimidating. That’s why I approach it through the back door.

The back door is the service door. It’s the one used to bring in the groceries. It’s the door from the garden, the lawn chair, the grill. It’s the door the dog uses.

Pulling inspiration from the library

Pulling inspiration from the library

The back-door path to design uses what is available and builds on that. It reads whatever books are on the shelf, takes whatever classes or workshops come up, researches techniques that might come in handy.

Then when a challenge comes up, all the bits and pieces of design inspiration quietly come in through that back door, sit down at the kitchen table, and whisper that concept into reality. Design through the back door.

How do you approach your design challenges?