It is always interesting to hear how creative people come up with their ideas. For every form of art there is probably a different process but there are also several things that can be used by anyone during the period of "idea generation."
Three simple ways to come up with an idea:
1. Research: Fill The Bucket. This can include anything that helps to fill your creative bucket, whether it's a trip to a museum, letting your mind wander while listening to music, reading magazines and books to see what other folks in the design field are doing and checking into unrelated fields to see what creative solutions they are using.
2. Brainstorm: Empty The Bucket. Throw down every idea that you can think of without judging whether it is good or bad. You might call this "spitballing" -- or "throwing the pasta" (to see what sticks once all the ideas are out there.)
3. Refine: Different Buckets. This is the point where you take all of the ideas and start to combine or collect them into areas that have a similar theme or approach. It is unusual to have one single idea float to the top -- it's much more common to have multiple options. This is the point to winnow them down to two or three.
There you are, with several workable approaches / ideas that can be developed further or presented to a client or partner for further input.
At Sander Architects, if there happens to be a team of people working on the same project we love to throw in a good dose of friendly competition. We call this period an in-house design charrette (an intense period of design activity used to develop initial thoughts for a project.) We assign the same project to everyone and see what they come up with. Each person goes through their own version of coming up with an idea and at the end of a week or two we come together to critique one another's work.
This week the team at Sander Architects presented their ideas for a concert hall. This is the fun stuff. Everyone has their own style of presentation: some simply presented the massing, some developed more detailed renderings, some bring in books, magazines or their laptops to show their inspiration sources. Others worked in pencil. You know who you are, Whitney Sander.
Eventually one idea will be pursued in ever-increasing detail and models, floor plans, renderings and finally construction details and drawings will follow.
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