I’ve been attending a renowned design school for 4 years now. The University of Cincinnati is in the top 60 design schools in the world ranked by Businessweek. I’ve learned so much that I can’t even begin to explain it all but I can sum up my top tips for any designer creating a collection, no matter their field of expertise. I wish I had heard all of these tips a few years ago, because everyone has potential for groundbreaking ideas if they just start to think outside of the box! First you need to learn where the box is, and that's what most of these tips will help you with!
1. Research! This sounds daunting, but if you love design, research is simply window shopping and reading about companies you are interested in! Fun right? This also includes reading blogs. Pick a target customer, find their interests, and uncover unmet needs. If you research enough you can begin to have a feel for trends. You see what has over-flooded the market and what is just on the horizon. Keep in mind trends are overarching gradual changes. Fads are what we consider “trendy” like how cats are a fad right now, but in a years time a new motif will be popular. Fads are generally to be avoided when designing.
2. Inspiration is a fickle thing. Here is my advice on how to narrow it down and find something you can really design from. I’ve found that too much stimulation causes confusion and prevents cohesion. Look outside of your focus or into the past for inspiration. I often look at musicians, art, furniture, or interior designs to inspire my clothing. Once you find one or two heart moving images, people, or objects stop looking!!!! Sometimes aesthetics of your inspiration isn’t what inspired you. If this is the case intellectualize your inspiration and your ideas will be endless!
3. SKETCH, SKETCH, SKETCH! My first few ideas are usually total rubbish and don’t make sense together, but then as I progress I come across some great ideas. I also begin to put together the not quite successful ideas to find great ones. When sketching, over do it! Draw at least triple the amount of ideas you need! When I jump into a project set on an idea, I then sketch and quickly find I will have much better ideas near the end! Next I cut out my strongest designs and shuffle them around until I’ve come up with the best combination possible.
4. Simplify. Beauty is in the details. Unless you’re Betsey Johnson, then you can pull off more is more.
5. After you have your designs and begin to source materials and make prototypes, keep in mind that craftsmanship is everything. You can have a fabulous design but if you make it from shoddy materials and rush through the production it will no longer be successful. If handmade seems “crafty” consumers will think, I can make that myself, rather than I need to buy that. Having exceptional quality should be your #1 goal.
I hope this has inspired you to make your projects and products even better. If you see the box you can toe the line and really push yourself to be an innovator! ♥ Mallory