9 Jan, 2012

Posted by in Fourleaf News | 2 Comments

Inspire your design in 2012

We’re back at work, the festive cheer’s over, the mince pies all gone and a whole new year stretching out ahead of us to fill with great designs. To start bright and stay full of fresh ideas can sometimes benefit from a little help.

So, below, are a few things that have caught my eye so far this year and some other ways to keep the ideas flowing and stay creative.

Change your surroundings

Rearrange your desk/office, get a new plant, put some new pictures up and perhaps keep a pin-board of things that inspire. Your desktop wallpaper is probably something you see a lot of so make sure it looks good. Make your own or find one online. Smashing mag has been rolling out the wallpaper calendars, designed by a variety of global contributors, every month for a couple of years. They’ve got 20 to choose between this January. ‘A new ending’ reminds you of the potential for the day and my favourite ‘Cold Flakes To Write Home About?’ is reminiscent of the current trend for book cover design and peaks my imagination to wonder what’s the story behind the image.

Expand your mind

Learn a new skill – something that’s creative but not directly related to your day job that will expand your designers-mind!

  • Take up life-drawing
  • Discover a new design package – it’s good experience to design in a medium you’re not familiar with and a great learning curve
  • Learn about a different culture – the fashions, history, landscape and language
  • Take up photography / collect photos on a theme and change the way you look at the world… i.e. ‘happy accidents’, ‘emerging’ or ‘anacronistic’ (great word – ‘a thing or person that belongs to another time’)

Get out and about

Take advantage of the myriad of design events and museums on offer:

  • The V&A will be running ‘British Design 1948–2012: Innovation in the Modern Age’ from 31 March – 21 August. It looks at innovation in post-war Britain and should be rich pickings
  • After the V&A, you can nip over to the Science Museum and have a nose around the current Hidden Heroes exhibition until the 5th June. It looks at the genius of everyday objects from the humble tin can, to post-it notes and ground coffee. I love the way it encourages you to look at the ‘ordinary’ in a new light. There’s inspiration all around, it’s just up to us to discover it.
    Check out the slick and stylish Hidden Heroes site dedicated to it from Vitra Design. It’s got great functionality and you can build your own museum tour – you barely need to leave the comfort of your chair… please do though!
  • The Brit Insurance Design Awards at the Design Museum. On the 8th Feb the shortlist comes out and designs go on display. Last year’s graphics award winners Forsman & Bodenfors created an inventive and beautifully graphic cookbook for IKEA which was welcome food for the eyes

These 3 shows will give you a taste of past, present and future – that’s a pretty broad range of ideas to pluck inspiration from!

Colour me beautiful!

Take inspiration from Pantone’s colour of the Year, Tangerine Tango. It definitely blasts away all thoughts of winter and drops you in the middle of a beach holiday. I can see myself using something similar, possibly in small but intense flashes of colour. Keep watching this spot for an article from Kate, evaluating a selection of the best swatch sites.

Keep it close at hand

On your travels, it’s essential to make a record of all those sights, feelings and ideas. You never know what might come in handy, and one of the most invaluable ways is to keep a visual diary. A tactile, old fashioned method of data input provides the antithesis to all the technology flying around at the moment. Nothing quite beats pen and paper, and a notebook beats scraps of tissue/ traintickets/ newspaper edges. Keep it small so you can carry it everywhere and keep it rough – no room to be precious here!

Of course there’s a myriad of technology solutions with camera enabled smartphones and tablets and all manner of apps.

Evernote is one which work‘s on across your phone, tablet and desktop to easily record external input i.e. photos and files and digital info, i.e. images/text from various webpages. It’s pretty all-encompassing but if I’m honest, I currently prefer my trusty diary and a good bookmark managing app/add-on such as Xmarks.

Xmarks allows you to manage your bookmarks, add profiles for different machines/media and sync them all. It’s fairly simple but simple and effective often means longevity of use.

If you want to fully integrate with your on-the-fly ideas with your design packages, then check out Adobe’s touch apps.They are currently only available on Andriod but IOS is in development so hopefully we’ll see it coming to the ipad soon. They have a suite of apps such as Photoshop Touch and Proto but Collage and Ideas look like they have the potential for collating ideas and they have a version of Kuler too. Current feedback is that they are good but quite limiting and I’d have thought especially frustrating if you’re used to working with the full package. It’s still a big selling point to be able to integrate with the core design software though, so hopefully there will be additional features in the future.

Hopefully there are a few things in here which will help keep inspiration at hand. If anyone has any suggestions to add, then please do! Happy creating.

  1. Matthew C. Kriner says:

    *Hello! I just would like to give a huge thumbs up for the great info you have here on this post. I will be coming back to your blog for more soon.