How to find out exactly when your design is finished!

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As you might know – when you sign up for my list – I ask you what you’re struggling with? I do that because I’m interested in finding out if what your are struggling with is the same as what I think you are struggling with – which means the same things I use to struggle with, and because I genuinely care about what your problems are – so that I can help you overcoming them.
All the struggles I get in, I use as inspiration for writing this newsletter, I tend to generalise so I don’t ‘hang’ specific people out.

But today, I’m going to do it a little different – I’m going to answer a specific question.

Ilana sent me this question:
“When do you stop sketching/ exploring/brainstorming and get down to the business of making your piece?!!
I thought I had planned my time relatively well. I gave myself a couple of hours (which turned into the whole day pretty much) of creative brainstorming. This was a good thing as I had time. In the next days I chose one of my sketches as the piece I’d attempt to make. Even though I was not absolutely positively crazy about my idea, I felt I needed to be disciplined and to pick one and to start making it – leaving room for changes and unexpected things to happen.

Then I showed my sketches to a jeweller friend who brought me back to one of my original sketches (which is often what happens eh?) and she suggested something in addition. I got all enthused, but now that today I really looked at the feasibility, I don’t think I can do it because I need help to make it (I don’t have that expertise) and I don’t think I can find that help along with the proper tools. So I feel like I’m back to square one, but really nervous as I have less than 14 days to complete this. I wanted to make something amazing that would prove to myself that I am an artist. Well I’m quite scared I may fail now. I think I may go back to the idea I set out to do at first because I think it’s more manageable for my time and resources. But I feel a bit deflated and I still feel the need to sketch and come up with the one design that will feel just right.

So basically, it would be interesting to find out what others do, how they structure their design process.

Often when we design, we set out to re-invent the bowl. There is nothing wrong with having big expectations or goals, as long as you have a plan of execution.
And that’s exactly what usually fails – we don’t have a clear plan or even clear guidelines or steps to follow.

Ultimately we can design and make anything – that’s the beauty of the creative world – only our imagination sets the limits…
But having all that freedom can also make it very hard to decide on anything at all, because it can always be better, bigger, more inventive and so on.

So, what I will suggest to anyone who has experienced the same kind of struggle as Ilana, not knowing when to stop brainstorming, researching or sketching – is: set a clear measurable goal from the start, this will help you define the steps and know exactly when you’re done researching, sketching or modelling.

Here’s how you do it:
BEFORE you do anything else, write what I call a brief: describe as detailed as you can what you are designing:

  • funcion
  • material
  • size
  • price range (include how much time you want to spend making it)
  • source of inspiration
  • technique

This will give you clear guidelines to steer your project, and as you work your way through, you might want to refine your brief.
Usually what happens is that, the more defined your brief is, the more creative you can be within those guidelines. Our brains are programmed to come up with creative solutions within boundaries. So set it tight!

Now I want to hear from you, do you always know when your design is finished?
If yes, tell us how you know.
Leave a comment below.