Design as Problemsolving

“How did you come up with that design?”  

SKetches from last year's Super Bowl

Artists are asked this all the time.  It’s one of the toughest questions to answer though.  So much of the design process is intuitive that it’s hard to define.

One way to look at it is as a series of puzzles that need to be solved.  Right now I’m designing this year’s Super Bowl.

1st Problem: I want to make a bowl  Solution: Sink and/or raise a metal disk

2nd Problem: A plain bowl is boring  Solution: Cut parts out of it

3rd Problem: What do I put in the holes?

I usually come up with multiple solutions at this point.  For example – metal net-like pieces, fold formed pieces, cut-out pieces, many layered pieces, etc.  At this point I’m usually going over the different options in my head.  Once I begin to narrow it down I’ll sketch out different possibilities so that I remember them.

Bowl all cut out, now what to fill those holes with?

4th Problem: Which design should I choose? Solution: Pick one, let’s say “many layered pieces.

The problem solving becomes much more specific at this point.  How many holes to cut in the bowl?  Spaced at what intervals?  All the same shape and size?  How many layers should each piece have?

Then it gets technical and I must decide what order to do everything in.  AT this point I start actually making the piece, but the problem solving doesn’t stop there.  Problems always crop up while working.  It doesn’t even stop after the piece is done.

What should I name this piece?  How should I photograph it?  Where should I exhibit it? etc, etc.  The questions never end.

One thought on “Design as Problemsolving

  1. Wendy, This is exactly what we had to “figure” out when we translated this to clay. It was a GREAT lesson in planning and finding solutions! We are still drying out the bowls and “crossing” our fingers that the connections won’t crack in firing! Its been a great adventure and experiment! Thanks for the inspiration!

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