Five centuries after his lifetime, we all can still benefit from taking a page out of one of Leonardo’s many notebooks. His quest for understanding the world around him and his unique way of looking at it made him special. Coupled with his artistic skills and an ability to mix ideas from the fields of engineering, art and science, it enabled Leonardo to challenge many of the conventions of the time.
Designers could benefit from exploring their curiosity and observation skills more organically just like Leonardo would overfill his notebooks with scribbles.
While technology can be resourceful, it can also impede the creative process by limiting exploration in pursuit of the perfect end-product. Picking up a pencil still goes a long way in inspiring creative thinking – always good to go back to the drawing board when approaching a brief. Take the time to enjoy the methodology of creating and rely less on CAD.
Leonardo was brilliant at discerning patterns and abstracting a framework from them that could be applied across disciplines.
Get liberated designers!
Create something original with an art medium alien to you. Leonardo designed all sorts of work; from helicopters to The Last Supper mural – don’t limit your creativity to one output.
It’s some of Leonardo’s simplest creations that demonstrate the beauty in creating for and elevating above the mundanity of the everyday: the flower on a conveyor belt. The Vitruvian Man, combining biology and design of the human body, is still widely commended – influencing the likes of Apple’s accessibility icon.
What you design should be this memorable and communicable across many touchpoints. Even someone as young as three should be able to recognise it.
Before putting pen to paper, ask yourself “What is our purpose? What do we stand for?”
Leonardo was one to give himself permission to indulge in fantasy. His many drawings and notes may not have produced a final piece – like a helicopter – but he let his imagination soar.
There is value in procrastination and experimentation. Creativity requires time for ideas, there’s no need to rush to execution, spend time thinking beyond design. As designers, we tend to close doors too quickly to simply produce a functioning product or service, but we should let the idea hang around in the ether for some time.