A stumped student wrote me: Hey Gary, I need some inspiration.. Any good design related books you recommend? I remember you showing me a few a while back.  Thank You, M.

I wrote him back suggesting books on Art Deco and the Shakers, books on Chinese furniture and Frank Lloyd Wright, books on Mackintosh and architecture. Then I warmed to the subject.
Look at flower patterns, the wings of moths, tree branch patterns.
Take photos of every sewer grate in town.
Study porch designs and building entrances.
Grab all the watches in the house and look at their designs.
Study birds in flight.
Start drawing without expectation. Sketch your hand, your knee, the view out your window and just draw. Turn off your hope of designing the best piece ever. Find something that interests and intrigues you. Satisfy the function of the item, make a pleasing form, discover the intention of the piece: to make you sad, hopeful, intrigued by pattern or shadow lines. Make everything in it work towards a whole. Sketch a dozen versions of this idea. Narrow them down to three. Work on those three until you have one you like. Make a model of this one.

Study the work you like as a starting point. Why, ask yourself, why do you like it? What aspects appeal? The shapes? The negative shapes? Tear the furniture you like apart in your mind to find out why it beckons you.

Remember that inspiration is serendipitous, but design is hard work. Expect to work hard to design simple things. Work every day on seeing design in the world. It is truly everywhere. Open your eyes to it to find what inspires you. Then ask yourself why.

I hope these few things will help you. Thank you for helping me wake up to today. Good start on the day.


Ramona Falls


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One Response to Inspiration?

  1. Deniseg says:

    This is the best design advice I’ve read to date. I’ll start following it immediately.


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