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The Design Process

The essential design process, Design and Shine Podcast Episode 1


If you are a creative, you’re interested in design, you want to learn lots and tips and tricks to do with not only pattern design but being a creative entrepreneur, then you are in the right place. Today we are going to be talking all about the design process, which is so essential if you do want to be creating beautiful designs.

I want to talk about the design process and give you an overview of what it’s about because even though it may look like a designer just simply comes up with a range of designs on these beautiful collections of designs, there’s actually much more to it than that going on behind the scenes. And although designers may choose to work in very different ways, there’s usually a very similar process that will take place. So I really want to break that down and just give you an overview of what that design process is.

Collecting Inspiration

The very first step of the design process is where you’re going to be giving yourself guidelines to design within. So what you’re going to do is you’re going to start collecting lots of inspiration and then use that inspiration to create an inspirational mood board, which will give you all of the information that you need for when you do start your designs and collections.

So basically it will help you stay on track and keep yourself accountable because you’ll be constantly referring back to this mood board to make sure that the designs you’re creating are in line with your initial vision. Your mood board is going to be is a collection of images that you’re going to use as a reference point for when you start designing.

It’s going to tell the story of what your designs and collection will be about and it’s going to tell that through your use of color theme and design direction. It will give you the foundations for you to use when you start your designs. The other great thing about a mood board is if you are working with a client, it really allows them to have a sense of the direction you’re heading before you start so that if you showed them your mood board and they didn’t like the direction you were going to head, you’d be able to change things before you actually start your designs so you’re not wasting time creating designs that they don’t want.

This is a really important step in the design process and I know that it’s something that people often want to skip over. I know that from working with lots and lots of students and lots of creatives through running challenges and in my programs that this is often a step that people are really excited about when they are reminded of it as it’s often something they’ve either forgotten or haven’t implemented but they’re actually realizing how important it is for them to really keep their designs cohesive and on track.

I really encourage you to think about doing this before you actually start your design process. You can’t expect that when you sit down that you’re just going to come up with a million ideas or even if you do, you want a process where you can refine those ideas. This is the process of just simplifying that, giving you direction and making yourself really accountable when you do start designing.

Colour Palette

From there, you also want to think about coming up with a really resolved colour palette that you will use in your collections. Now, this is also really important to do before you start designing so that you’re not just trying to create this on the go and so that it’s really well considered.

You want to think about how the colours are working together and how all of the colours in your palette are going to relate to one another once you start using them within your designs. I can’t recommend highly recommend thinking about your colour palette and making sure it is really well resolved before you start.

Design Development
The next step is the design development phase. This is where you’re going to start developing the ideas to then use within your pattern designs and collections and this is also a really important phase, and it’s also something that I know people can be really reluctant to want to do.

I’ve had so many students that want to just jump into creating their designs rather than working through the process I’ve spoken about so far. You’ll begin this design development phase by using your mood board to start coming up with lots of different ideas that you could then potentially use within your pattern designs and collections. You really want to just allow yourself to be really experimental at this phase and just come up with as many ideas as you can. The idea is not to just create one or two things and then just use those it’s to come up with lots of ideas and give yourself lots of motifs that you could potentially use within your designs.

It’s much better to have more elements and not use them than to not have enough and then not want to create anymore and feel like you just have to use those because your designs generally will end up being boring, probably not well resolved or well well-balanced. Begin this process really broadly, really openly, really with lots of experiments in different media and techniques. And then once you’ve started exploring and developing lots of ideas, you can then refine those ideas into some motives that you want to take in to creating your pattern repeats.

Pattern Repeats

The next part is to use those motifs to actually create a technical pattern repeat. There’s obviously a technical process behind doing that, but what you want to do is beyond the technical process is make sure that you’re creating beautifully well-balanced well resolved patterns that consider scale, consider the way your motifs relate to one another and really come up with something really beautiful.

The next stage is using your design elements to create your pattern repeats. So your pattern repeats can consist of either a collection of designs, or perhaps you’re just creating the one design either way, this process of working through, right, from creating a mood board through to creating your patterns. This process that we work through is something that you’re going to do every time that you create your designs.

It’s not a linear process

It’s a process I still work through even though I’ve been designing for 20 years. I also want to point out that this process is not a one-way process. You can work backward and forwards through the design process as you go. And what I mean by that is I know when I’m teaching my students, especially when they’re new to designing, one of the things that sometimes feel like is that they have to make each step perfect before they move on to the next step.

But one of the ways that you can learn is actually just by doing so, what I highly recommend is to start with each stage, work through it and then if you find something’s not working, is that you can move back to the previous stage. So for example, if I createmy mood board and colour palette and start developing my idea, and then I find I haven’t got enough ideas, my mood board isn’t really working, I can go back and make some changes. If my colour palette isn’t working or I feel like I need to add in an extra color or change a color, I can do that.

The only time that you wouldn’t want to do that is if you are working directly for a client and they’ve given you brief and set colour palette you need to stick to, but while you’re learning and while you’re working through this process and learning how to use it, keep in mind that you can work your way backward and forwards through it.

The same is true of the design development phase. Please don’t feel like you just have to use the design elements that you’ve created. If you’ve started creating your pattern, repeat, and then you find you need more elements, create more.

When you go to start creating your next design, make sure that you consider the design process and hopefully it will help you to create some really beautiful well resolved designs.


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