Drafts

For some reason in design schools we have adopted the term “iteration” for doing multiple versions. In writing this is called a “draft.” And I cannot enough stress the need for multiple drafts, especially early on when still forming an idea. Drafts are a way of clarifying your thinking. Drafts are a way of testing your ideas, to see if they work. Even the strongest 3D thinkers among us cannot fully envision complex space and form without using tools of visualization – whether hand or digital – to test the concept. Design is not so different from the scientific method, wherein a hypothesis is tested, the results analyzed, and a conclusion is made, which might result in a revision to the hypothesis, new testing, new analysis, and new conclusions. Or the dialectical approach (which I like better because it rhymes): thesis, antithesis, synthesis (idea, test/challenge, refinement). This thinking goes for any aspect of the design process, from the big ideas, down to the details, it is a constant process of refinement.

I like this article from another discipline by Fred Bernstein, the architectural critic, who started his career writing by studying and practicing law. Law is a profession where language is the foundation, and people go to great lengths to make sure their meaning is not misunderstood, and indeed, to make sure they themselves know what they are saying. Thus it is with design. Good design is a constant act of refinement and questioning, research, testing, and many, many drafts.

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