General, Industry, Weekly Digest

Embracing Design Constraints

Interesting post on “Creativity in a Constrained World” from Ben Malbon following the Firestarters NYC event where he spoke to to Adam Morgan and Mark Barden, authors of A Beautiful Constraint.

A quote from Mark Barden resonated with my experience designing regulated communications to be useful and appealing to consumers:

“It is often the constraints, not the freedoms, that define the work we do and determine its success. Do our limitations restrain us and our clients or are they like the string that lets a kite fly by tethering it to the earth?”

I also appreciated the section on “Can-If” thinking (in contrast to “Can’t because” or simply “Can’t”). I’d like to have my clients read this before every project! I’m fine working with constraints, but there is a huge opportunity cost to working with constraints that aren’t real.

There is some very sound advice in here for thinking about how to solve problems and getting more done with the resources you have. As an example, Dr. Seuss wrote a series of best selling books using only 236 individual words.

Printing, outsourcing and “marketing services” companies who often operate without much marketing or any advertising can learn from this example. Designers who are frustrated with the limitations of paper, the limitations of regulations and the limitations of the clients they work for can also can gain insight. I have to give a tip of the Cat’s Hat to anyone who can turn Dr. Seuss into a business case.

Elizabeth Gooding

Elizabeth Gooding is the editor of the Insight Forums blog and president of Gooding Communications Group

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