One of the great things about being a designer is working with a new Client from the start of their new business, creating a unique branding identity and then watching the brand grow and evolve. Last year I was privileged to take on a new Client who was interested in opening up a series of frozen yogurt stores.
Each new project has its own challenges and the design often evolves based on site specific characteristics. The first of the Fusion Frozen Yogurt stores was an inline tenancy in a food court. The next two were mall kiosks which brought on there own challenges. The design language that began with the first store has quickly evolved as each new site brought something new to the table.
This is the beauty of design. It isn’t a static thing where on design fits all. With each project there are may variables from the type and size of the tenancy, specific site conditions and design challenges to overcome, to different Centre design expectations and customer demographics to budget. This not only makes each project interesting to work with but also opens one up to serendipitous ‘accidents’ as I like to call them. Accidents are not negative events in my mind. I welcome serendipitous ‘accidents’, that is, I may be looking for one thing and I end up in the design process finding a better solution or find a new finish or idea that I hadn’t known about.
Putting The Pieces Together
In fact, the design process is like a organic jigsaw puzzle where a series of serendipitous events mean that the design naturally falls into place. The best designs come not when we are stuck on a certain idea, but instead, when we are open to new ideas and open to input from others no matter where the input comes from. Sometimes simply having a conversation with someone, flicking through a magazine, even going for a walk and seeing something can trigger the answer to a perplexing piece of the puzzle.
Design Is A Journey
If anything, design is like a journey in which one knows the destination but the road ahead isn’t always so straight forward. In fact, this is the great joy that I get out of design. The joy of being able to travel in my mind. To let one idea lead onto a new path of discovery. The 18th century explorers such as David Livingstone as a child had a way of capturing my imagination.
Another way that I like to look at design is that the aim of design is to solve problems. And the most important questions to ask to get to solving the problems at hand is the right ones. What are the right questions? It is a matter of working out the Client’s goals and then prioritising them. Often one finds when we ‘fix’ one problem with a clever design solution that we create a new one – after all we are working within a limited space. This domino effect can become very complex, and sometimes, there are those rare moments when everything literally falls into place from the beginning. In my mind’s eye, all the pieces have subconsciously being put together and the design is revealed in its entirety.
I say that this is a rare moment. I don’t mean that it doesn’t happen very often, but getting ‘everything’ right is very rare. The reason is that we are often designing on many many levels. The subtleties and peculiarities of a Client’s business down to even their life experiences and personal preferences all the way to the Centre’s guidelines and the restraints of budget.
The ‘creative’ side of the design process no doubt is the ‘fun’ part which fits into the bigger puzzle of making all the rest of the pieces fit together from obtaining council approvals, tendering and watching the shop be fitted out and take place. This involves many people, many minds, many hours. Often than not, the fit out stage may bring about unexpected ‘accidents’ such as pipes behind walls that shouldn’t be there when the previous fit out is demolished.This calls for flexibility and a sense of humour and a dash of humility. I never claim to know everything and take pleasure in listening to the opinions and ideas from everyone involved. After all, the journey is much more pleasurable and meaningful when it is shared with others.