Archive for the ‘Concepts and Cateogies’ Category

Categorical Error as Creative Insight

In Concepts and Cateogies, Creativity, No Readymade World on 2010/08/30 at 8:11 pm

The Gelman Test: Which is the Correct Pair?

There are many psychological tests that attempt to measure our ability to categorise things for accuracy and speed.  One such test is shown above.  Out of curiosity, I decided to try it on my son when he was 3 years old.  He did not hesitate to say that the correct pair is 2 and 3, ie cat and wheel.  Since the “correct” pair by the majority of subjects is truck and wheel, I asked him why he thought otherwise.  I was expecting him to say he was just joking, but instead he surprised me by saying that both and cat and wheel were black!

The pairing of the black cat and the black wheel is technically a categorical error.  In other words you would have got it “wrong” in an examination.  But the categorical error is also a creative insight, albeit hidden from most.

“Errors” are often relative and can open up alternative lines of reasoning and creative thought.  On the contrary, an obsession to be “correct” can be stifling, and promotes a herd mentality.

Architect Charles Moore famously collected paraphernalia from all over the world and placed them in unusual juxtaposition in his home to stimulate new relationships, connections and ideas.  He was deliberately inducing categorical errors to turn them into creative insight.


To Brand a Design or To Design a Brand

In Branding, Concepts and Cateogies, Design on 2010/06/09 at 12:54 pm

Brands are designed.  I dare say many designers do not even realise this.

A design — a chair, or a lamp, say — can be made into a brand.  In fact, it can be argued that the design is already implicitly a brand by default; without having to explicitly subject it to a “branding” process.  This is because a brand is fundamentally the distinguishing mark for a product or service, so a particularly “memorable” object, place or experience — by virtue of its distinctive design — brands itself.  Remember that branding has its origins in scorching a mark on the hide of cattle to show which ranch it belongs to.

Even in its origins, a brand as a distinguishing mark had to be designed — in the most general and obvious definition of design as a cognitive and physical process of making.  The appearance of the brand is a unique visual identity, often of graphic and artistic quality, and not merely a serial number.  The indiscriminate proliferation of superficial logos today undermine the significance of our abilities to use symbolic representation to make distinctions in what otherwise would be a world of sameness around us.

Those who understand branding today, subject the “branding process” to design thinking.  This includes “up-stream” ideas for the design of the “brand strategy”, through to the design of the “brand experience” and the design of many aspects of “brand loyalty”.  The brand is designed from inside to out, head to toe, end to end.  Whilst it is possible to brand a design, it pales in scope and possibilities when compared to designing a brand.