What makes a great design?

To some designers, they might often think a good design is something that is functional. Something that sells and something that is visually pleasing. They aren’t wrong but it just isn’t as simple as that in my book. For a design to be great, it has to virtually break boundaries and ignite a trend. Something that is groundbreaking, yet… familiar.

Now…. as designers, we are taught fundamentals in the principals of design, like color theory or other design elements such as balance and emphasis, all of which are good practices in design., but…that’s just it, they are just rules and guidelines to follow. What it doesn’t show you is how to be innovative and have novel approaches in a design. In the world of design, rules are not always absolute, and anything can be an exception. As the experts say, children started out creative, but as they grow up with the rigid rules in society, they start losing that instinct. So…how do we preserve that instinct?

A showreel of design trends of last year. Graphicmama.com

Design for the masses nowadays are often dictated by trend. Such an example are the clinical approach of minimalist designs. Where everything from the font to the images must be justified, clean and balanced, which is honestly… cliched and quite boring. Strictly sticking to a particular style just shows lack of ideas and conceptualisation. These design styles has of course proven its effectiveness and worth, but that doesn’t mean that it cannot be mixed and matched or taken apart and put together in different ways.

Rather than having oneself limited by trend and peer pressure or just plain rejection, It’s better to have a free flow mindset, to be fluid and versatile. Just as a child would when drawing on an empty piece of art paper, and that is how we preserve that creative instinct, free flowing and not afraid to be wrong. Not to say that we should just crayon on a piece of paper naively, but it should be applied with certain fundamentals in mind and some slight restrictions. I could say that imitation is the highest form of flattery, but liberation leads to the highest form of creativity.

A showreel of design trends of this year. Graphicmama.com

To be able to follow trends requires us to upgrade current skills and techniques , or even having a versatile team where each individual have their own specialty. Of course, it helps to be versatile yourself, to help better understand the processes involved and better put things together either with a team or by yourself. I have seen great designers move to a trend and yet be able to put their signature color scheme and flavour to it and make it work. Their very own identity mixed in to form something new.

Most importantly, for a design to move beyond imitation, to the realm of creativity and innovation. One must think outside that box, connect the dots and have the ability to visualise it. Being able to picture the design in your head before it even goes on paper, and being able to execute it without losing that vision in mind. That, to me is what sets apart those that do good design and those that do great design.

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