The importance of the ‘Black Book’ for every designer

Category | June 05, 2021

I do not know how much I should stress that my black books are my wealth! Every designer according to me should maintain a black book/dairy where he/she is always updating it with the ideas he/she gets immaterial of it’s utilization.

Let me state the problems every designer goes through and alternatively stress on how the black book might come in handy for the moment or at a later point of time. This will also explain the process of ideation a designer needs to follow at the very basic.

  • Mind Blocks: I am sure every designer has faced these instances many times in his/her life. Especially when clients/bosses who want a designer’s services come up and say this is what I need, you’re the designer, go ahead and do something. Now, I know this point of time is almost irritating to every designer. A designer is not a machine that generates ideas in random and out of the blue, nor is he/she a piece of code that reads some data and comes up with design solutions.
  • Exercises incorporated by designers: Ideas based on exercises such as brain mapping/mind mapping techniques, keywords and its explanation/derivation techniques, visual inspirations, imaginative inspirations and any other techniques that help a designer to transform an idea or an explanation into a solution/visual entity through the thorough understanding of the need. Now, this might take time to study, note down and develop the idea; and in many cases the designer might need to go back to the study to refresh himself/herself with the idea.
  • Random Ideas: Many a time, for every designer ideas are their wealth, how can we choose to loosely lose the ideas no matter how inconsequential they may be at the moment? Here, I myself have experienced many times that an idea, visual detail or part of an idea is generated in my mind at the most random moment or when I am able to see something that I may want to get inspired from, develop and improvise the idea or a material/product/detail that has been visually available to me.

Some random ideas in my black book which may have been generated in the most random place or time

Good Design comes through a thorough study of the problem/idea, a thorough set of possibilities to solve the problem/develop the idea and come up with feasible as well as aesthetic solutions. Of Course! I would end this point with a footnote that a person who randomly generates ideas is usually called an artist and his/her design could become incomprehensible or vague since its just a thought generated at the moment without further thought/understanding.

How does the Black Book help every designer in his/her everyday life?

Everyday designers are asked to come up with new ideas/new solutions. Now what if we could go back to some of our older ideas used or unused, those ideas/development of the older ideas are appropriate/necessary for the moment. What if, usage of the above reduces our exercise to brainstorm/generate the study necessary for ideation? What if some small design solution/detail used in the past could actually be used as a small module of a bigger solution?

What if we already had the above data stored somewhere and we could just pick it up since it is stored in some hard copy we could easily access? – The Black Book

The exercises part has already been explained in the above point as part of the whole design research/ideation. Let me not elaborate again…

Out of experience, I can say that whenever I wish to transform an explanation or a set of keywords, many times, my referring back to my black book has actually helped me come up with visual entities as part or whole of my design, or by connecting many small details from different ideas and making them as a whole is usually mentioned in my black book. It has always helped me in some small or big way.

I have made it a habit that when an idea/detail/solution randomly or out of its current need of utilization, to note it down with available material in the place, even if I am sitting in a cafe/restaurant, I request for a pen/pencil and a tissue; and further go back to my black book to stick that idea into my vault – my black book! Which, laughably you can even see in the above sample images of my Black Book.

So far, I have written this blog purely based on experience and without any reference from other blogs/designers. Hence, I would welcome suggestions and comments for this blog with each’s ideas or techniques/solutions you follow in your daily routine.

Published by Nageeshwar C/Aphrodite by Nags

An alumnus of National Institute of Fashion Technology, Bangalore and a professor with over 10 years of teaching experience in institutes across Bangalore such as WLC India., Icat India, Iift and Nift, Bangalore, and various other institutes. He has also delivered hours as a guest faculty and also conducts many workshops. A philanthropist through the Round Table India movement. He loves to bike and always enthusiastic to meet new people; and experience new adventures! His interest has always been in the geometry of patterns and loves to play with form. An avid fan of rock, country and pop music, many a time music itself has been his inspiration.

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