A Different Drum - Manifesto 2010

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears the beat of a different drum. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away – Henry David Thoreau, transcendentalist.

“Designer” is a term used quite often and quite freely in today’s society, and covers a myriad of professions, descriptions and requirements. As a designer, the application of good design principles to seemingly mundane and everyday applications is the most worthy and noble pursuit we engage in. All products and spaces deserve quality design, from the largest stadiums to the smallest closets – everyone is deserving of the application of our skills, not just the elite. Effort towards greater design is never wasted, as it has the power to improve the life of every person regardless of colour or creed. It is universal, non-judgmental, open and free.

In researching my manifesto, I came across a comment left on a random website by a graphic design student outlining his goals and creed. I found myself drawn to it, and agreeing with it on a basic level – basic because that is where good design is felt. Not in the heart or the head, but in the very pit of your being – a visceral reaction to that which pleases us and brings us joy that is unexplainable, almost indefinable, but powerful nonetheless. He said:

  • It’s personal, not business
  • Don’t think outside the box, change the box
  • Ignore everybody
  • Gaze into night skies
  • Design with your mind
  • Stick to your principles
  • Fight for what you believe in
  • Stop meaningless consumption
  • Ask questions
  • Search for truth
  • Be critical
  • Be free
Everything on his list is intertwined within my own ethos in some way, shape or form, however I find some things missing.

Be fearless – it is very well to change the box, to fight, to seek truth and be free. First, though, there must be the ability to be not afraid in the face of failure or rejection. What makes us unique as individuals is our own sense of style and taste. I won’t fit into everyone’s dream home, and I’m glad of that fact.

Listen to your heart – Design with the mind, yes, but unless something makes your heart sing, it is a failed design.

Fail, just once – it doesn’t have to be a big failure, it doesn’t even have to be noticeable to anyone else. Sometimes, however, the greatest designs of one thing come from the failure of another.

Developing a design, for me, is an easy process. Usually, the basis of where I want to go with a design is firmly embedded in my psyche before the brief is even finalised, or the concept refined. At times, this can be frustrating – I can already see the completed design in my head, so I struggle with the follow through. However, the beauty of an idea is that it is easily moulded, shaped, changed, and altered, until the finished product is perfection. Analysing my past designs and what I find inspiring, I find the most reoccurring principles and elements are the more strong and foremost ones: colour, texture, line, repetition, balance and contrast. Finding the reason behind the planting of these seeds in my psyche is both interesting and a little daunting.

Looking through my work and inspiration, it is obvious repetition is forefront in my mind. Grouping objects (usually in the rule of 3) is a reoccurring gravitation, and probably comes from growing up as an only child. I sought out groups as I had no siblings, so fun always involved more than one other person. This is supported by my love of one single statement piece – one bright yellow lounge chair paired with white in a group of three. The flip side to this is I’m also quite comfortable placing one solitary item in the middle of a room – there is nothing wrong with being alone some of the time.

Colour and texture are thoroughly represented in my designs – there is nothing better than running your hand along a stack of fabric and feeling each individual texture, from soft and sumptuous wools to rough and tumble sisal. I can attribute this again to my childhood and current personal life – surrounded by animals of all type and breed, is it any wonder I developed an obsession with texture (fur, scale, feather, skin) and colour (plumage, egg shells, markings)?

Nature is an inspiration all of its own – it is good and well to gain inspiration from what someone else has done, but nature is ever changing, ever evolving; a design of its own. Being based near both the ocean and national parkland I grew up watching the sun set into the ocean, smelling eucalyptus while walking barefoot on fresh grass. This has possibly led, again, to texture and colour, but also to an awareness of the need for environmental design and a requirement to protect – I believe it is not only our responsibility as designers to strive for the future, but our duty to protect that future as well.

Within a space, movement is of the utmost importance – from the way we ourselves move through the space, to the way the flow of the space works. A space is a song of its own; harmony, balance, repetition, beat. As design needs to make your heart sing to succeed, it needs to make your body move to be functional. A background in dance has embedded this firmly in my mind.

Looking over my past work and that which inspires me, it’s apparent that I’m influenced by the unexpected, by that which makes us remember, that which makes us feel with just a touch of whimsy and the ethereal thrown in for good measure. I believe that a space or product needs to speak. Not necessarily to everyone, but to those that can hear it, I believe that great design needs to shout and whisper at the same time. I believe that as a designer, something that is on trend at the moment is outdated and needs improving, remodelling, reimagining. I believe that as designers, we are responsible for joy, and I intend to bring it. There is no limit.

Images via Ibai Acevedo, Zemotion, Girltripped, Inside Out Magazine, Hindsvik and Nick Harris1