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The Importance of the Mental Process in Design

Posted in Design By Warner Carter

Designers today are lucky. During our days, we did not have the immense power of Google to search for things we needed for our designs. That is why I find it surprising that many young designers today lack the ability to make their work unique. As a coordinator for a large design firm, I can say that young designers’ overreliance on the Web weakens their way of dealing with the creative process. Sadly, this overreliance results to works that are unoriginal, needless to mention, they are measly copycats of what they have found on the Web.

Mental Process in Design

I know it would be ridiculous to compare our old days to this time. Yet seeing young ones skipping the most important part of our craft is saddening. When I was just a beginner, I would admit that dealing with creative process was the most excruciating part of my job. In the absence of the Internet, our only concept of ‘getting influence and reference’ was through costly design books published at that time, and to have reliable design books was a luxury we young and starting designers could not afford. Given that reason, the only thing left for us to satisfy our craving for new concepts was to go to the nearest parks and arcades where existing logos appeared ubiquitously on every store and kiosk wall. Again, this is saddening, for we consider these young designers the future of our craft.

The Internet and the search engines are irrefutably grand modern inventions that help many designers today. Yet for us ‘old and seasoned’ designers, search engines are just the modern versions of the books of our time. The only difference is its price and convenience. It is cheaper and accessible, and getting info through it requires no grand amount of time. The problem is many young designers have abused its capability to provide information and ideas, while unknowingly becoming too dependent on it. This, in our view, is a very alarming occurrence in the design world.

What I am disputing is the kids’ habitual skipping of the mental process (or literally ‘the process of thinking’) involved in the creative process. They substitute it with a simple Google search. They skip the important process and just go directly to the design process.


This generation is impatient. They are reluctant to challenge their minds, to squeeze and wring it in order to produce something original (and perhaps personal) for a given design. Since the Internet is more accessible, (and getting reference from it is faster and cheaper than going to a local bookstore or walking to the nearest arcade where they can find available ‘influences’) young designers will probably just type their queries on the search bar and go with their designs instead of taking up the challenge. The result: they never get acquainted with the most important fraction of designing—the conceptualization, the mental process.

We breathe the mental process

Developing the mental process as part of creative process is something we old designers innately do. We do it by just observing things around us, from the vast expanse of the skies to the minuteness of the dews that cling on soda glasses. We observe patterns, lines, shapes, existing designs, logos, colors and contrasts, typefaces, photos, texture. We consider it as part of our lives. That is why during conceptualization, we find it easy to pour out concepts and ideas onto blank papers with without consulting the Internet.

Setting the record straight, we seasoned designers use the Internet as well. We are glad that the inception of this invention has helped and is continuously helping us to see things we never saw during our time. Yet for us, Internet is just something we consider an extension than absolute solution. Extension, for we still depend on our mental processing to come up with fresh ideas; and not as an absolute solution, for we never start the creative process by initially ‘Googling’ ideas to shorten the design process.