Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Design storytellers ala Trollback

In an article from February’s How magazine, award-winning designer Jakob Trollback suggests that designers should start thinking of themselves as storytellers, using design as a language of expression. Content and presentation are inevitably linked together, and unless you care equally about what you’re saying and how you do it, it’s impossible to succeed.

Trollbeck offer the following steps for creating wonderfully effective design “stories.”

Pick up the pen. If you spend your time just making things look pretty, the language is pointless. You must make sure that you’re not just decorating; there has to be a reason behind your design. The solution is storytelling. When you start to think of your design as a story, rather than just a creative execution, you’ll find it much easier to recognize and discard gratuitous design. Every element of the composition should add something to the story, or it has to go.

Start with a script. A good way to get started is to put together a creative statement about your project. Coming up with a creative statement can be really challenging. Even though it won’t capture any of the design’s details, it’s about figuring out the essence of your approach- or you won’t have one at all.

The next part of the script involves the determination of the project’s motivation- what purpose is at the heart of the story, what’s the energy that drives it forward. The motivation should look at the end result and formulate it into words.

Set the scene. Once your statement has been established, you can start thinking about the elements that paint the picture and provide the story’s backdrop. All communication exists in a cultural and social environment. Instead of trying to invent your expression from scratch, you have to immerse yourself in this environment and let it serve as inspiration.
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