There’s a beautiful poem by the great spiritualist Kabir that goes by the opening ‘Jheeni re Jheeni’. Kabir was a weaver by profession and spiritualist by nature. In this poem, he literally weaves the elements of his vocation with the high philosophy of life and living.
Using this as a simile, he connects life (and body) to a beautiful tapestry. The poem talks about how life’s impulses form the warp and the five elements the weft – creating the tapestry that we call life… and so on. He interprets these connections and constructs the form of his poem. The poem itself is like a weave.
So what? What’s that got to do with design? Leave aside the high philosophy of the poem (the content), and you see the pure craftsmanship of it.
Design of a symbol, or any other design act for that matter, must be a deliberated act of connecting, interpreting and then constructing. Conceptually, the design approach must first distill and arrive at strong narratives – what story must the design tell? What aspects must it emphasize? What mood must it create? What balance must it strike? That’s the conceptual connection. We must then interpret this connection visually, formally, and graphically so that we have a ‘complete construct’ that is resolved and cohesive. Even if we present only drafts (as we normally do as a part of the design process), the drafts themselves must be complete and cohesive, even if they are not refined in presentation.
At times, we are missing out on this collective deliberation as well as individual critique that is a part of good design approach. We must adopt more effective ways of deliberating, coming up with conceptual connections and have internal critiques that will help us pick, debate, choose or discard things that work and things that don’t work.