Process vs Product

Practice makes perfect.

An expert is deemed as someone knowledgeable in his/her profession / interest / expertise. We should aim to be an expert or work towards being one.

A user is an expert. He/she does the same thing day in, day out; practise the routine consciously and subconsciously. Let’s put this in context: A tennis player who practises his forehand volley, services, backhand cross sourt shots and so on…day in, day out. So when he goes out to play competitively, with his adrenalin running fast, those days of practising will pay-off during this match, when he “instinctively” goes for the shots and due to those numerous practices, his connection is correct and he “kills off” the other opponent and he wins eventually.

As a designer, are we competitive enough. Do we practise enough?

As an academic, are we competitive enough. Do we practise enough?

So, how should a designer practise? What should he/she practise until it becomes instinctive how to get it right? Is there one formula or several?

This issue lurks somewhere under the discussion of process versus product. With computer aided design softwares, you could (arguably) instantly create design in the last minute to get you to another level or to pass and go to year 2 or year 3. And then you got your degree. Congratulations! But wait a minute…congratulations to what? What did you do? Did you bluff your way through university course? Did you managed to bluff the lecturer by your “skills”?

How about this: did you manage to bluff yourself?

So what is “process”? Why is process so important? Is it skills-building? Aren’t there many many types of skills out there? So if I muster a few, I should be able to get a job in a company and earn a living. At the end of the day, getting paid is the most important thing, isn’t it? A comfy job, settle down in marriage, get into a piece of the wealth pie…

Well, it’s your life. But say if paid more attention and practised more, concentrating in getting the process right, going through all the processes and not relying on shortcuts. Say that your lecturer asks you to read more, to study more, to prepare better, so that your analysis becomes better and your design will have more depth. You will be more of an expert with better skills.

But! In the pass, we saw students who took the shortcuts and students who studied more, they both scored with the same grade! What’s the use with all that effort? The lecturer should penalise the students who did the shortcut if you really want us to do the proper process.

Well…don’t you feel that you should do the process and learn from it. Doing the process right is for you, not the lecturer, isn’t it?

So the debate goes on?

What value do you place the process of the design to be of equal or even more importance than the product?

If you do not value the process highly, then you will not do it or not do it properly or do it well…

Its your judgment.



  1. Agree. But i m a student who concern the product than process.
    I though short cut will be nice,and quick. The presentation should be as nice as possible.
    But i realize eventually. Observation is everything. When you observe during process, you learn more than process. It may not have any sort of outcome instantly. But the time will tell us.
    I realize why my fren can think more deeper in design but i cant, although we were entered school in same day. Process can make things different.This is my summary about this fact.
    but how to change?
    this is related with the basic thinking in my mind.
    i think i have a long way to go.

  2. Its never to late to take care of the process of design. Most people want to find short cut. It is not short cut if you get ideas quickly but short cut if you cut and paste without investigation. In schools like the AA, you have to be studying deeply your subject, not just the what and how, but also the why aspects. That’s why good designers graduated from the AA.

    At UM even the lecturers get impatient and ask for the product and not focus on the process. So the students lose out. Maybe the lecturer never learned that way when he/she was a student.

    I am interested in this aspect because its my business. I have still a long way to go before I get to explain this clearly, but I find books like “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell extremely informative about the subject of the unconscious thinking. A lot of what designers do are unconscious and subjective. They may say, why they do something because they just like it. It’s not a personal thing but an acquired process, how they train themselves to ‘like’ certain things. How they design in that manner.

    Actually during crits and presentation, some students who managed to get it just right, do not need to explain much or explain in a few words and we get it. During my time people who don’t talk at all gets A all the time as long as he/she is a good drawer. But nowadays we want students to also be good at talking. That’s another skill.

  3. I agree with what you said.

    Thus, my situation is half hanging. Undesirable of using computers to do presentation, or to use manual to draw perspectives. Despite, I still feel imbalance as my manual skills just started in my first year of architecture course in UM. It is due to, friends around me, those who uses manual, they are expert in art field and been presenting nice strokes in presentations. For those who uses shortcuts, although they do not think deeply, their fancy gadget presentation is already a great score to win the lecturer’s heart.

  4. Dear Aiven,

    I think to be successful as an architecture student is to be single-minded in getting an ‘A’. This is when analysing your friends’ work helps.

    Look around the studio. Notice who scored an A the last time. Analyse his/her work.

    Most probably he/she concentrate in one way of presenting and in doing that way very well. Next, that person comes up with a winning formula or very good concept/s. Next, he/she probably focus hard on his/her work and not get distracted by others or speculations by others.

    Remember, the analysing of others’work must make you look forward and be positive and not to be distracted with your failings.

    By the way, although I have a manual drawing technique background and can draw well manually, I am not caught in the past. I acknowledge current trends in visualisation using computers and I respect that. My only regret if students cut and paste, because when I ask them to explain, they don’t know how. So the drawing shows a fantastic concept but the mind shows blank, which only means cut and paste! All over the world the critique is like that. Gone were the days when the good illustrator don’t have to say a word and got an A.

    Good luck in your work and work smart!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s