Drawing and Design

April 29, 2006 Comments Off on Drawing and Design

Drawing is the point of contact in which idea begins to approximate form.
There is a kind of transcendent energy in the sketchbook, or the tissue,
or even the napkin upon which the simplest of doodles begins its long,
twisted road to realization. It’s all grist for the mill, and the studio
is its incubation chamber: not the studio with the white board and the IT
guy and the phones ringing and the incessant emails, but the studio in
which the ideas seek, and ultimately start to find, their burgeoning,
fledgling form. Cezanne once wrote that the painter must enclose himself
within his work, and it is true that such investment — physical,
spiritual, and deeply intentional — is, in fact, what making work is all
about. But as the public’s media appetite moves further away from the
dreamy landscape of imagination (think Reality TV and confessional
memoirs) the danger for design, I think, is imminent. Sure, design serves
a pragmatic need, but that doesn’t mean its point of departure needs to
position itself so firmly in the realm of logic, does it? Drawing, as the
primary gesture of making, reopens the doors of the imagination and
recasts the process as something completely different. Scary, because you
don’t always know where you’re going. But somehow, you know when you get

There’s time, later for logic, for editing, for justifying all that type,
for putting up those responsible roadblocks that we all must, on some
level, choose to embrace. The studio, at least a little piece of it, is
not the place for such duty-bound thinking. Somewhere, somehow, it must be
the place for thinking through making.

But don’t take my word for it: the only way you’ll know for sure is if you
turn off your phone, pick up a pencil and try it yourself.

Design Observer: The Art of Thinking Through Making Jessica Helfand

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