the death of original design…

we’ve all heard the saying ‘there’s no such thing as an original idea’, but is there such a thing as being so exposed to design as a whole that it kills your individual creativity completely?

lately i’ve been wondering if i wasn’t a better designer before i took all of the courses, subscribed to magazines & developed an overzealous appetite for blogs: back when i was dependent on my own imagination & resourcefulness & looked more to my immediate surroundings for inspiration than the world wide web…

these days i find myself so inundated with, & influenced by, other people’s aesthetics, rules & advice that at times i feel rendered incapable of freely formulating my own sense of style…

in part, this very issue of overexposure was one of the determining factors in my choosing a blended {part home tuition, part school-based} interior design course as opposed to a full-time one: i reasoned that being surrounded by fellow students all working to the same project briefs on a full-time basis would only impede my individuality as it would be impossible for our ideas to not overlap, if not completely crossover…

but what i failed to appreciate was how pervasive design influences were outside of the classroom environment…

&, ironically, it’s often the things that we think will help us design better that ultimately hinder us: design apps & e-magazines, home makeover shows & house tours & even a lot of design blogs are, whilst entertaining & informative, effectively glorified sales tools which, through promoting a trend or style, are ultimately selling us other designer’s brands, services &/or wares…

certainly some of these tools have made it significantly easier for us to execute our designs than it used to be & there are those who would also argue that the proliferation of accessible ideas & materials has actually significantly diversified our design options, rather than diminished them…

but do more options actually mean more originality or does it merely result in more variations of the same theme?

for all of our technological advances are we not now simply more covetous than creative?

excuse my dalliance with nostalgia, but personally i’m beginning to pine for the ‘simpler’ times when developing a design was distinctly harder: back when you had to actually leave the confines of your sofa in order to execute a plan from beginning to end…

because, in all honesty, when i look around my own home i find the things i am fondest of aren’t those items that i coveted from the pages of a magazine or ideas i copied from a design show, but rather the personalised pieces that have been gifted me, made for or by me, or simply discovered on my travels…

these are the things that make my home unique & ultimately inform my individual style…

image via: wmagazine

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4 thoughts on “the death of original design…

  1. Trust you to put up such a cheery image and me to come here at 4.40am to be comforted:) furthermore instead of finding fluff, you make me have to intellectually engage at this early hour (note to self: only visit Sue’s site in the afternoon when equipped with a cup of tea;))

    Now to your point! As a designer graduating in the early 80’s, I’m old school. I design in a sketchbook, not on screen (graphics) and I certainly don’t read blogs to help me with what to buy or for current trends. I believe that the best design comes from ‘looking sideways’ and am much more inspired by derelict buildings or by something in its raw state. I have definite design styles and they always originate in storytelling. I’m also more interested in emotional design (à la Ms Crawford) than any decorating schemes. Inspiration is everywhere, something I learned from Sir Paul Smith and it rarely comes from a cushion or throw I see online;)

    Going back to bed:)

    • don’t you hate it when that happens… hehehehe…
      i agree with you… i’m old school too in many ways… when i have something important to write i have to pen & paper it first… when i design i have to sketch in a pad before drawing it up on the computer… i can’t formulate my ideas otherwise! i also just think all the magazines, shows, blogs etc. muddy the waters telling people what they should & shouldn’t be doing… so, i for one am backing away from a lot of it inch by inch… i don’t really go to these sources for inspiration either, but i do like to know how other people live, in fact i’m fascinated by it… but like you i’ve always been inspired by what surrounds me… nature in particular & patina & decay, faded facades, etc… basically, what i’m saying is i need to immerse myself in life outside design a lot more to get back to my roots…

  2. This is a really fascinating topic, Sue! Really thought provoking. I think you’re right, the over-sharing and overstimulation we have with interior images is leading to a lot of repetitive aesthetics popping up all over the place. Part of it is that it’s all so readily available and that there are thousands of images and blogs floating around. It seems like every single home has a vintage desk fan or an Eames shell chair, right? I think it’s good and bad because it’s exposing a lot more people to good design, but it’s also just carbon-copying an aesthetic and losing the personal point of view as it goes. I suppose I knew that amassing so many pins on Pinterest or stacks of design books was going to influence my own aesthetic, morph it, change it, as much as it was going to inspire me. I think it’s the same with writing. I’ve noticed that what I’m reading at any given time as a way of seeping into my own writing and infiltrating my “voice” if you will. I could keep rambling on but I’ll stop myself. 🙂 Thanks for the post! If I think if anything else to add I’ll be back, haha. xo

    • it’s a fine line isn’t it… influence vs control… to be honest, it doesn’t really overly-concern me if other people are cloning stuff they’ve already seen (unless they pretend it’s their own design when clearly it’s heavily influenced by someone else’s), but it bothers me when i find myself questioning my own aesthetic which was so much clearer 10 years ago then it is now… & funnily enough, it impacts me most when i’m designing for myself, not others as i look towards the personality, lifestyle & needs of those i’m creating for, but don’t afford myself the same luxury… so, when i question what i’m doing for me & start asking myself what would {insert name} do instead, then i know it’s time to claw back my own thought process, get myself outdoors & find inspiration anew!

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