Reflective Analysis

On reflection, the honours research project has been a continual refinement of a range of ideas and concepts that progressed through the process of producing design artifacts. These artifacts; predominantly visual identities, visual experiments, posters and logos, acted as a tangible summary of thoughts and proved invaluable resource to reflect upon and progress my thinking. What started as broad critique of branding has transformed into a refined question that contributes a new perspective of a designer’s role in the production of visual identities. Further, this research is as much a critique of corporate culture and visual identities as it of a design process and its pin these environments.

On observation, when foreign elements are introduced they are responded in hesitance, almost with hostility. These new symbols and imagery are seen as an empty containers and highlight the unknown, and accordingly treated with fear and reluctance. Hover, It is only when one forms a relationship and interacts with these identity systems that these containers are filled with meaning and purpose. This highlights consumer’s need of references when interpreting a design intended communication.

To allow for instant recognition of a brand’s values and message, references are extracted from existing solutions. For example, if a new cafe needs a modern and trendy identity they will need to first define what ‘modern’ and ‘trendy’ is in the relevant context and reference existing design solutions. If no reference is made, the proposed identity may seem foreign and confusing to consumers. Accordingly, this need to reference existing design solution has been somewhat abused and resulted in monogamous visual landscape of homogenous concepts and imagery. This raises the question when is introducing foreign narratives and design elements appropriate? How does a designer adopt influences without these references overly saturating one’s own creativity?  

However, instead of a design process reflecting existing visual culture and language, a designer must understand that there are many opportunities to produce their own visual language. The research conducted supports this by adopting an experimental and exploratory design process to produce visual identity in a range of contexts. These ranged from individual pursuits, small businesses to public and creative sector. In all scenarios, by adopting this exploratory and experimental process, it resulted in fulfilling and somewhat liberating practice.

What is important is that a designer finds confidence and clarity in their proposed language. This confidence cements a proposed concept into a reality. In all design processes, there is numerous decisions being made on range of varying levels (logical, emotive and instinctually). Although decision making, what designer’s struggle justifying is the synthesis of ideas and their inability to justify and support their decisions.

Jon Kolko commented on this act of synthesis and described it as a ‘private exercise’ stating that often there is ‘no visible connection between the input and output’. “Designers themselves are unable to articulate exactly why their design insights are valuable. Clients are left to trust the designer, and more often than not, the clients simply reject the insight as being "blue sky" or simply too risky” (Jon Kolko 2010).

During the Week 8 Workshop it provided insight into this issue. The purpose of the workshop was to encourage students to be more critical of their design process and consider how they contribute and participate in corporate and visual culture. The results highlighted, unintentionally, that the narrative being developed was the primary design issue and that visual imagery and language and secondary and reflective of this story.

Although this insight is somewhat obvious, this realisations was somewhat clarifying and reassuring for my own practice. It highlighted that these two elements: narrative and visual language are developed and evolve simultaneously and directly intertwine. It confirmed that pursuing visual experiments in my design process that it was a vital tool in clarifying my thinking, illustrating the problem at hand and developing appropriate responses

Additionally, this workshop suggested that the participants following a script of how to explain their narrative (I think, I feel, I know) they were able to justify and explain the decisions being made. Although the narratives produced were all unique and interesting, it was how they had come to these decisions which was of most interest. By following this script, it provided insight into their creativity and why these decisions were being made. This script was successful at not only facilitating a unique narrative to be produced but more so, how this narrative was justified.