Studying Alternatives

It is obvious that a designer will accumulate a substantial mental library of ideas over time as design experience is gained. The more exposure one has to designs, whether it be through photographs or actual experience, the more images one has to draw on for future reference. This mental file of ideas has tremendous value, for it enables the de­signer to think of different options for any given project. These options (alternatives) are very important to the growth of designers. Growth occurs when a designer tries new ideas. Studying alternatives during design phases will prove to be valuable for for­mulating new ideas. Functional diagrams encourage the use of alternatives because of their quick and simple graphic character.

Going Beyond Preconceived Ideas

A mental library of ideas available for future reference is developed by every designer through experience and exposure. Owing to the wealth of this stored visual informa­tion, it is common to have preconceived ideas for a design. Sometimes these precon­ceived ideas are so strong that a solution can be imagined quite easily. This insight can be exciting for a designer, but it should be handled sensitively so it will contribute pos­itively to a designer’s growth. Too often preconceived ideas are the only ones that are considered. We are not suggesting that these insights be ignored, but keep in mind that the preconceived idea is only one idea and it is just the first one. Although the first idea may be a good one, the designer will never know if it is better than other ideas unless other ideas are explored. A designer should not accept the first idea without examining alternatives. Once this is done, a better design solution usually emerges.