There are No New Ideas in Design



“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” — Steve Jobs

It’s all been done before, in some way, shape or form.

So if it’s all been done before, then how do you bring new value to the table?

You push the boundaries, you break the rules, and you test your limits, while challenging your strengths.

You can always redefine design, by exploring the art of the possible, and adding your creative twist.

Sometimes you have to break the rules to create new breakthroughs.

In the book, Creative Anarchy: How To Break the Rules of Graphic Design for Creative Success, Denise Bosler shares ways to add value to design, even when everything has already been done before.

There is Nothing New Under the Sun

When it comes to design, there’s nothing new.   What’s old is what’s new, and everything draws from the same pallet of paint.

Bosler writes:

“There is nothing new under the sun.  All design ideas can be traced back to something in the past.  Rays of the sun in the background of an image?  Check out the war flag of the Imperial Japanese Army from 1870 or Russian Constructive posters from 1919.  Surely those cool modern hipster logos must be original.  Think again.  Go back to logos from the 1940s through the 1960s.  The new Microsoft Windows logo? Just an evolution from the original from twenty years ago.”

What Can you Bring to the Table?

You can redefine design, by adding your twist.   It’s more than old wine in a new bottle.  It becomes new wine.

Bosler writes:

“If everything has already been done, what can you bring to the table?  Give an old idea a creative twist.  Use established theory to redefine the design.  Pull in bits and pieces of many ideas to form a new one.  Make the concept yours.”

Push the Boundaries

Don’t be limited by what’s been done before you.  Explore the art of the possible and flex your ability to imagine new ways to go outside the box.   But know when it’s worth going outside the box.

Bosler writes:

“The ability to push boundaries is a respected quality.  It shows you are willing to go beyond the expected by demonstrating that you will invest time and creative strategy in a design concept.  Boundary pushing proves that you are a thinker and a doer, not a follow-the-leader-er.  There is a time and place for everything, though.  The most successful designers embrace design innovation, while recognizing that not all designs should try to go outside the box.  Some clients feel comfortable inside it, but it’s up to you to figure out what the client wants and deliver it.”

Break the Design Rules

It’s time for creative anarchy.  Test the limits of your creativity by breaking the rules.

Bosler writes:

“Which brings us back to the question: Why creative anarchy? Every design problem has multiple solutions.  If you don’t explore a variety of possible solutions, you’re not doing your job.  Exploring design means looking at the rules.  Looking at the rules means investigating your options.  Investigating your options means thinking about breaking the rules.  Breaking rules calls for finesse.  It can’t be done willy-nilly.  Breaking design rules means testing the limits of your creativity, challenging your strengths and strengthening your weaknesses.”

Don’t let what’s been done before limit what you can create for the world.

Add your own creative twist.

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Image by Twentyfour Students.