Design is an Action

It's a verb, not a noun • March 5 2012

I spent a good deal of brainpower this morning fiddling around with something that just wasn’t coming together – polishing a turd, in the parlance.

Ultimately, I threw out several hours of work. I was reminded that it’s as much a designer’s job to take away as it is to add, enhance, re-order, etc. I mean, sure, right? Some days you take away, some days you add. Somewhat flippantly, I tweeted:


Frankly, I was feeling like a bit of a chump after dumping the morning’s yield into the bin. Luckily, all around good guy Pat Dryburgh (friend, fellow designer, movie star) reminded me that what I had thrown away was decidedly not the work – it was a sketch, a draft, an idea – and the decisions I made about how best to move ahead (even when that decision was to turf the entire thing) was what was important. Those decisions hadn’t gone away. Without those decisions I’d be left high and dry with no clear vision of where to go next. Finding out what doesn’t work is still worthwhile work.

Some of the best clients I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with are the ones who understand that – design is sometimes random, usually tangential, oft-times frustrating – and people that I love to work with are the ones who are along for the ride. Design isn’t the end result, it’s the process of cutting and pasting, reconfiguring and recontextualizing the raw materials. Design isn’t a thing. Design is where things come from.