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Thoughts On Ideation. Part 4: Execution

Thoughts On Ideation. Part 4: Execution

In this four-part series I offer some thoughts on generating and deploying ideas. This post, as with others, is an experiment. An attempt to push BP&O more towards theory, alongside the format of the review, to speculate with the intention of helping readers to generate new ideas. Rather than being dogmatic, these posts are an invitation to consider how your own ideas are formed, and a provocation to look at other ways of catalysing the process.

What’s the value of an idea poorly explained? An idea discounted because of its inadequate execution? Just as the falling tree, unobserved, may make no noise, the unwitnessed idea, never brought to fruition, may never have existed.

Just by enacting something, even if it is hypothetical and at small-scale, we make an idea real enough for others to respond to it.

Surfaces have always fascinated me. This, perhaps, comes from a background in furniture design, but is also derived from the practice of observation, assimilation and interpretation previously touched upon, specifically, the politics and subtext of surfaces. The spikes that prevent pigeons from landing, the bumps that stop homeless people sleeping, or the absence of seating surfaces to keep people moving. More importantly, this enquiry into surface is foundational to a philosophy I design by.

Through the ubiquity of the glass screen and the equal weighting of content (its presentation not algorithmic bias), the delineation of online content has become blurred, both visually and temporally. We observe content quicker, and that content can seamlessly move between violence, pornography, family, friends, news and humour. Our time with it has a plasticity. An irregular cross-platform notification imposes itself on our perceptions of time, the hourly chime becomes the ding of a notification. Anticipation subverts our perceptions time. The only governing factor becomes the extraction of our full (collectivised) capitalistic potential. The possibility of assimilating anything of meaning and of value (that which facilitates personal growth, cultivates culture and agency and leads to individuation) has been significantly diminished.

My position is that, to improve the chances of assimilation, the retention of ideas and the encouragement of participation (civic and consumer) a material component remains a powerful tool. This belief is founded on personal experience, and some reading around how we make sense of the world through material objects from early childhood. This, the material object, becomes the Execution and final part of this four-part series.

Quick note. My experience is largely around material objects, and I’ll be writing mainly of that, however, some of these ideas can be applied to the screen and the digital experience.

Ambiguity sharpens perception. Providing room for interpretation through ambiguous means, is an invitation. It does not stipulate a right or wrong. Whether the reader thinks they got it, may of got it, or not got it at all is irrelevant, only that it engaged them is of importance. Not understanding is a provocation to seek out the interpretations of others. Misunderstanding fosters alternative thinking. And understanding becomes an idea to be reconfigured, to be made part of an assembly of other ideas that lead to new thinking.

Materiality can provide nuance and subtly. It is ideas delivered on the surface, yet best served when inferring to a potential subtext. This is what I try to explore with LogoArchive. Can I draw someone towards an idea by alluding to it subtly through an embossed or folded surface?

Execution is design craft, but gains more value through its synergy with the ideas (observed, assimilated and interpreted) it intends to express. Execution is the syntax, the language in which the ideas are communicated. These are best assimilated when they are both literal and ambiguous, visual and tactile. The joy of the material experience, the time taken to engage with a single object with a clearly defined purpose, and an audience given enough room to interpret, and generate their own conclusions and responses, aids information retention, tying it to something idiosyncratic, so specific, rather than ubiquity and homogeneity of the screen.

There is a further role execution plays. And another philosophy I design by. In publishing, there is a temptation, more so than ever, to be dogmatic (and controversial). To tell people what and how to think. There is an intrinsic insecurity to this, the desire to control how people understand the idea and perceive the author. However, it is my belief, that interpretation supersedes authority. That execution is only a guide, a provocation to interpret the ideas presented. As mentioned in pervious articles, misunderstanding and misinterpretation can give raise to other more interesting ideas. LogoArchive is a small booklet, but it is part of a series, each one exploring a couple of ideas. It can be enjoyed for its logos, its material and graphic execution (and interpretation of historical artefacts) but also its material ambiguities and idiosyncrasies. As the author, I put forward all those things I’ve observed, assimilated and interpreted, and say, run with it, take what you want, and make of it what you will.

To finish, to bring this four part series, not to a conclusion, but full circle; the execution of one project, its ultimate manifestation, is the catalyst for the next. In the doing, in the executing, your consciousness is illuminated your capacity for Observation becomes heightened.


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Thank you to everyone who has visited BP&O since its beginning in 2011. As many of you know, BP&O has always been a free-to-access design blog that seeks to offer extended opinion on brand identity work. It has sought to be the antithesis of the social media platform that often disentangles form, context and content. Writing articles can take 2-4hrs and are carefully researched.

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