Design Digestion

When doing projects I always find if I spend time after each task away from the project, I start to think of a lot of things to improve the design, report, quote, drafting, etc. I think of things I did not think of before and see mistakes I did not see before. I find when I have this time, the project results are better. Do others find this true?

I know this is hard to answer, but how much time away, minimum do you think is good to build into a project for “digestion” ?

Say the project is for a new counter-top display to hold sunglasses. Say you have 10 business days (80hrs) to generate a min. of 3 good concepts (8hrs) to a 3D CAD Rendering (16hrs) to a detailed control drawing with assemblies (32hrs) for 1 design - say the actual time to complete the task is total of 56hrs, that would leave three 8hr days for “digestion” and “go-backs” to improve. Does this sound right??

It depends on the client! Luckily, in corporate I have the time to dream about some projects years before they start. It helps a lot!

I try to build what I call “percolation” time into the schedule, so we aren’t running toward deliverable dates, but instead thinking, generating, thinking, reworking, tweaking, then presenting. By having several internal critiques ahead of the first client review the work gets much stronger I think… but a few months later there is always the inevitable “I’d do it this way if I could do it all over”. That is a good thing! It means you have grown and learned things.

When I go 6 months and don’t think to myself “if given the chance I would do x totally differently now” I’ll know it is time for me to hang up the six gun and pass the torch to some young buck (I think I just mixed 3 metaphors), till then…

There are some kinds of work that reward intense focus and analytics, and some that need unstructured ‘creative’ time. Part of that creative time is the ‘percolation’ (I like that term). Another way I think about it is in terms of sports, or martial arts. When practicing or training, the key thing is to do your training “by the book”. Its repetitive and detailed and focused. However when its game-time, the practice or training has been internalized, so that true creativity and a freedom from process can result. A weekend seems to be a good amount of time away from a problem. Its funny how a good hike or day-long getaway (without cellphone and other clinging technology) makes good solutions ‘percolate’ to the top.

Wasn’t Einstein one of the first people to document this phenomena, about going to sleep at night, and waking up and understanding the solution to a problem? I think the time interval would vary for everyone, so yo’s technique of just building in percolation time makes sense. The success rates for a given time interval are still going to vary.

An interesting line of inquiry would be: what are good non-design, percolation-time activities, that work toward a better solution? Preferably legal ones…

Works both ways. How you work I think depends on both the individual and the work environment.

Working now for myself, I like to enjoy the process in two ways.

  1. Work hard well ahead of a deadline, and have a lot of time to stew it over. Then come back to things a few days later and if I still love it, it’s good to go, if not, it’s garbage.

  2. Think a lot, do other things, go shopping, get inspiration and think around a project, then let at looming deadline provide the crunch to solidify things. I sometimes find that the pressure of putting something out due next day will actually provide solutions better than those developed with the luxury of time. Necessity of a solution and a pending time pressure for me can push out the junk and get to the meat of a solution in some cases.

Thing is, I can’t really say which approach is better, when. Sometimes more time and thought just gets my head going in circles and considering too much. Sometimes time and options are great and provide insight, other times it can overcook the brain, other times the lack of it filters the crap out or will put out only crap.

Working on a variety of projects and timeframes and mixing up the approach I have found has given me the magic formula :slight_smile:

R

HA! My metaphor thought processing was just blown up…

@rkuchinsky : I agree with you…
Design digestion/percolation/sleep over is also based upon a kind of project…styling, design, research…
Even it will vary with …kind & years of experience that you have…
With more time, you spend in design…your focus/depth will shift … little by little …from skills…to actual design…
Then… this percolation time will help you…in your design approach.