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|AVOIDING DESIGN FIXATION|
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|Design fixation, is a problem that all designers face at some point in their careers. It is when a design finds it difficult, to produce a range of innovative solutions, to a design problem. It sometimes takes the form, of a designer producing a number of solutions that are similar, lacking innovation and creativity. It is when a designer fails to break new ground, but follows existing solutions. It is when the designer follows conventional ideas. The saying, ‘cannot see the wood for the trees’, applies to design fixation. A simple solution may be possible, but sometimes, due to design fixation, a complicated solution is the result. Often, a design becomes focussed on solving a design problem in a particular way, without even considering alternative approaches.|
|Below are three products from different decades, showing how the designers have produced very different solutions to the same problem - listening to music, with headphones. Design fixation has not been the problem, as different technological solutions have been applied to each of the designs.|
|HOW TO AVOID DESIGN FIXATION|
|Design fixation confines a designer to limited creativity. It is a regressive cycle, that is sometimes difficult to escape. However, there are strategies that can be employed, that will help a designer regain his / her creativity.
1. Keep solutions as simple as possible, do not over complicate designs. Limit design detail by thumbnail sketching, producing generalised potential solutions. Then , add more detail through sketching, CAD and model making, at a later date.
2. Look at existing products that may provide innovative solutions, to aspects of the design. Study products that inspire you and look for elements that could be applied or developed, providing you with a route away from design fixation.
3. Work as a team, collaborating on possible solutions. Share out aspects of the design and meet regularly to discuss developments. Bounce ideas of each other and listen to suggestions.
4. Think ‘out of the box’. This is not easy, but design from an unusual starting point. Study existing designs, that have broken new ground, for potential inspiration.
5. Involve your client, potential customers and focus groups. Feedback on designs and sketches usually leads to improvements. A client may initiate a new design route, for you to follow.
6. Take each statement from your specification and develop separate solutions for each one. Then, try to blend the solutions, to form a single design.
7. Design with the starting point being the property of a material (e.g. the flexibility of flexi-ply). Include smart materials. Work with the properties of a material to ‘formulate’ a design.
|8. Be prepared to put your pencil down. Rest or have a break. When ready, start designing again.
9. Refer back to the mood board, prepared when discussing the project with the client, at the start of the project / task. This may help you to refocus on the task and to think of fresh ideas.
10. Look at the range of technology (electronics etc....) available, that could be applied to a design solution. For example, modern programmable circuits, that are flexible and can be modified.
11. Spend time studying the work of successful designers, such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Eileen Gray and many more. These people were innovators in the field of design.
12. Design and develop your ideas, by using the iterative design process, using sketching, model making, CAD and all the design tools available, as and when you feel it is right.
13. Do not be scared of producing radical designs, that are very different to those that already exist. Do not limit yourself to a conventional approach. Use your imagination.
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