There are a few obvious commonalities that I noticed about the process book examples in the Unit 8 content:
- Both provide a deep level of exploration of the process through documentation.
- The process book layout design is minimalist. In other words, the majority of time spent for each of these examples was on the process itself, not necessarily how it was conveyed.
However, having seen a few examples of Bliss’ work from other courses, she certainly has an outstanding design sense–executing the aesthetic at a high level. For a process book, this isn’t always at the forefront of what is most important. Honestly, I’ve only just begun to realize this aspect of the process book: see my Unit 8, Blog 2 post. It’s about a personal realization that arrived at the moment of this week, covering the design process of a process book.
After skimming through each process example, the first aspect that I noticed is the process of accumulation–this is part of the defining character of a process book. The layout doesn’t exactly need to overpower the viewer. Honestly, it’s the other way around: the focus is on the process, not the design of the process book. This is exactly what I’ve learned and will adjust soon (blush). Let’s consider why that is…
I’m a designer! We care about the integrity of content and form. My natural inclination is to produce everything with this in mind. For the sake of process, it’s important to consider the quality of presentation, but it’s not the most crucial aspect of a process book. Documentation and accumulation are both equally important factors within the process. Without accumulating ideas, we are left with but few options. Without documenting ideas, failed attempts and insignificant (yet potentially important) moments during the process, we end up delivering a rather surface-level process book. Believe me, I’ve already experienced this. In essence, the process book is not about perfection, as much as it is about reaching a point of conception and experiencing new ways to reach a solution. The process itself, can take a tremendous amount of time. This is why I have found that the emphasis of the process book design, benefits by remaining minimal.
Let’s talk about content and context. Dorn’s example begins with a very strong set of questions, such as “Where do ideas come from?” or “Where do ideas don’t come from?” and “What an 18-year old might not want to know about design.” Dorn, fortunately discovered her solution very early in the process, as indicated on page 4 of the PDF. This is OK! However, she did not persist to stop at this point, and instead, elevated the idea during an in-depth analysis. On page 7, she reminds herself, “Mull It Over–Do Not Stop Too Soon.” I’m very guilty of stopping short due to a lack of patience, resisted by eagerness to explore what I have already developed. Somewhere in between, I need to realize that I can always revisit an original idea. I recall Paula Scher mentioning that the Citi logo was derived from her first idea. However, she proceeded to refine and test the concept before settling. I’d like to think that Dorn has demonstrated a similar process. Keep in mind, we tend to burn out very early during the beginning stages of the MFA program. It’s new to us and it takes time to adjust to that! In doing so, I’ve learned to be less critical of myself and just accept that learning has no end in sight.
Bliss’ process is centered on accumulation. Indeed, she explores many different research techniques while retaining a higher level of design sense through her use of examples, as opposed to Dorn, whom has very little visual research other than her own to show for. There are a few techniques that Bliss inspired me to begin documenting, in which I have neglected to do so in the past: collaborate, “what if,” snapshot thumbnails of conversations and feedback (duh) and take a break (I never realized that I should document this).
Personally, it wouldn’t be fair for me to determine how to judge each process book, based on the final solution. Whereas Dorn has a vast amount of experience as an interior designer, Bliss (in my opinion) has a better design sense in graphic design execution. Does that matter when we discuss process? Maybe it doesn’t matter. Logically, I would only be measuring one talent against another, based on my own preference. Therefore, we need to consider the process itself. What I learned is that I need to place the emphasis on documenting the process, not over trivial design tendencies such as rearranging type or changing my color palette. While these elements are important for the sake of presentation, what I need to place importance on is depth of content. I feel much more prepared to do this next quarter. For now, I need to move forward with existing projects!