The Fight for Originality

AUGUST 10, 2013

Design is a competition.

Almost any idea you can think of has already appeared in other people's mind somewhere else.

If you search enough, you will probably find that others have experimented with similar concepts. If you don't manage to find your idea around the Internet, it is probably sitting somewhere outside the Web. Still, somebody already thought about your same idea and probably experimented with similar concepts.

In House of Radon's beautifully rendered think-piece documentary PressPausePlay, artist Bill Drummond rightfully suggests that when it comes to the creation of art, "technology always comes first." Technology dictates, primarily, what we make. As humans, we like looking forward. The internet, as a technological form, offers us a democratic version of culture. We can all make music in our bedrooms. We can all publish our writing. But is it having a detrimental effect on our creative output? Or, are we, as suggested in the documentary, "on the verge of a cultural dark age"?

Technology always goes ahead of art. And art pushes technology. So one of the safe ways of being original is being early adopters of new technologies? Being the first to explore the possibilities which new tech provides?

The key factor to originality is understanding what originality really is. An original creation does not necessary have to be radically new. Things that we call new are usually 'standing on the shoulders of giants', as they are possible thanks to previous work of others. Originality usually arises from a reinterpretation of what is existing, from its mix, and from how the designer understands things should be.

Also, big part of success relies in good execution. For sure, new ideas will be easier to market, but we just need to look to the big ones to see how good execution can ideas which have already been marketed for years.