Good Design is Good Design

Filed in Out of Our Head by on October 7, 2013 1 Comment

On Friday I oversaw the catering for a friend’s wedding open house. It was held at the home of another friend, and I was completely inspired by her gorgeous surroundings. It was a large, luxurious executive home, but it felt comfortable and livable. In spite of the sumptuous details, there was a simplicity that made the space really easy to move within. Here are some things I was able to articulate about the quality of good design that I believe cut across all fields of design and that any of us can learn from, whether it be freshening up our living or work spaces or designing knitwear:

11 August - bedroom painted
Photo by Christopher Porter via flickr.
  • Let go of sentimentality. While K’s house had plenty of personal touches, much of what was on display served her vision of design unity. She told me that she is constantly rotating what she owns and uses.  Thus, while there was a sense of coziness, it never devolved into clutter. In knitwear design I think that translates into not feeling like all your ideas have to go into a single design. Let things go and focus on the most important parts of the finished product. You can always design something else with that stitch pattern you’ve always wanted to try.
  • Create a frame. Soft grey walls and pale taupe ceilings were framed by all white woodwork everywhere throughout the house. If you’re designing, what gives your piece its guiding structure? The colors? The stitch pattern? The fiber content of the yarn? Choose a framework for your ideas. Boundaries can actually bring out the creative in all of us. Fewer choices can make it easier to develop the really good ideas.
  • Punch it up. Playing against those soft colors and white trim were a couple of bold accent colors. Furniture was brown leather and throw pillows were brilliant turquoise and a rich, bright orange. These seeming breaks with the dictates of interior design made the rooms just delightful. The eye had many resting places but yet also traveled around the room. Take a risk or push yourself in your next design. Add a cool shaping technique or a surprising color that makes the other colors just sing.
  • Make it beautiful. I came home from K’s not jealous or concerned about my own small house, but instead totally pumped up to roll up my sleeves and make my house as beautiful as it can be. I got out my master plan for updates and renovations and moved a couple of projects up the priorities list. In terms of knitwear design, put your best work out there. Pay the price in diligence and effort and don’t be afraid of a few failures and false starts. Prioritize what you want to design and just start. Write down your ideas. Make some sketches and pump up your level of commitment to create something beautiful. Whether or not it’s ever published, it will become public the moment you work on it at knitting group or wear it out of your house. Make it something worth noticing.
I love how inspiration comes along in the most surprising places. Sometimes, executive homes can feel rather museum-like and unwelcoming. K’s wonderfully down-to-earth attitude and the warmth and beauty of her home made me want to sit a spell and get to know her better (and take photos of every single room).  The quality of good design in other media and industries, including knit and crochet or quilting or what have you, should, at its best, represent the creator in some way, but also make the intended wearer feel that it somehow represents them as well. I believe these design ideas culled from K’s lovely home can help you in the direction of your dream ideas coming to life.

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