“One of the great beauties of architecture is that each time, it is like life starting all over again.”
Architecture and Design in general are disciplines with no identical problems and no right answer. It is evident that the process of designing anything is a tricky path, which generally starts with just a thought, an IDEA that fuels it all (or ends up entangling everything even more in some cases). Starting a project is the hardest part of any design discipline because it is when one tries to create something from nothing. Every design problem is different and, therefore there are no right answers, no set path, and no correct direction. Everything needs to be figured out by the designer itself, making each process even more personal.
Coming up with an idea is a difficult task. Sometimes ideas just keep coming to you, be it good or bad. But at other times it takes a lot of brainstorming to think about an appropriate solution to a design problem. You can never be sure of when a good idea is going to pop in your head. Since everything around us is designed for a user, design ideas can jump out at any time, sometimes suitably and sometimes not. Have you had an idea just before falling asleep and forgetting it the next day? Or maybe during an important meeting but it vanished just after? Or sometimes while watching an interesting movie, disappearing right before your stop to pen it down? These are common problems that a designer faces daily. Great ideas don’t always just come to you, they are the result of extensive brainstorming and research with a single focus to solve a user’s problem and create a brilliant design. A project goes through many stages before it is delivered to the end-user, and the process from conception to completion is gut-wrenching.
After all the contemplation and brainstorming, a designer settles down with a vision and concept for the project keeping in mind all the needs and wants of the user. This is where the magic starts. Every journey from the initial idea to the final delivered end product is unique in its way. Since no two ideas are identical, their execution is unique and tailored especially according to the designer and user. This is one of the major challenges of designing, as Renzo Piano said, every time it’s like starting over. And of course, the process of converting your ideas into reality is not a cakewalk either. There are many setbacks and challenges that a person faces to achieve the end product which satisfies the client and designer equally.
The process of designing takes a lot of effort to manage multiple things at once. Sometimes things fit, but something it’s much harder to stick to the plan. There are trials and errors in the process and many decisions to accommodate everything within the desired concept. Many times, while designing, a designer reaches a point where he debates sticking to the original idea or abandoning it to start afresh. Starting new may look like a lot of hard work but sticking to the original plan is a more difficult task. The first thought is more or less a vague idea that you mold with a lot of care to turn it into a reality, and starting over means trashing all the hard work and going back to square one. At some point in your career, you have to face this grim choice, and there is no right answer here either.
Inability to reason with the requirements and budget
During the development of the ideas into reality, many things need to be kept in mind and achieved to satisfy the client. Even if you are careful about the parameters and requirements while formulating your concept, there might be problems while developing it. Not everything can fit appropriately into the given frame and there comes a need to reason to either mold it or give it up. As a designer, you always want to do everything and make sure that your design complies with the requirements and much more, but this is not possible every time. Be it the requirements of the client, the timeline of the project, or the dedicated budget, many things hinder the course of completing a project.
The “Empty Canvas syndrome”
Whenever you start a new project there is a rush of creative emotions that flow through a designer’s mind. It is an exciting feeling where one has tonnes of expectations and views. You might get flooded with ideas and things to do, the kinds that might make a revolutionary change to the project you are undertaking. The thrill of starting something new is common with all designers and it is sometimes a rather short-lived emotion, because of what people call an “empty canvas syndrome”, wherein the mind goes into a slump while creating something from nothing. Since there are no previous experiences or parameters of designing, it’s a very intimidating feeling to see a blank canvas and come up with ideas to fill it up. Everyone has their own methods and timelines to escape the artists’ block and derive something out of thin air.
Lack of experience with a new design
Every design is different from the other in some ways or another. This is why no two designs can be absolutely alike. The requirements, the allotted time, budget or project constraints, and other factors that influence the design are all different, which is why the process of designing is also diverse. This leads to no set path or direction that the designer can follow. There is no defined formula or way of doing things which leaves experienced designers in a bind too where they are oblivious about many things. Every design teaches you new things that you might have been previously unaware of and this increases the risk of errors while designing even more. This is one of the major problems a designer goes through while aiming to turn their concepts into reality.
All these troubles come as a part and parcel of being a designer. There are many such roadblocks in the path of creating something from nothing. But the result is all that matters when we look at the bigger picture. The journey of converting your ideas into reality may be strenuous at times but leads to a delightful experience in the end.