Tag Archives: design brief

The design story encore

24 Jan

“Design is an opportunity to continue telling the story, not just to sum everything up.” — Tate Linden.

Indeed. Just when this design story seems to be coming to a close, an encore performance reveals itself. Read on:


ne fine day, I opened up my email inbox and saw that NLB had replied to my email submission. Here’s what they said,




“Dear Jason,

Thank you for your entry and the efforts took to create the brown bag.
Perhaps the contest requirements are not clear and thus cause some confusions. We are sorry about it.
We are looking for a design that will convey the message to encourage library users to return the bag after use. The winning designs will be printed on reusable bags similar to those shopping bags sold by NTUC and Cold Storage.
Hence, would you like to re-submit your design since we have extended the submission deadline to 31st January 2011.

We look forward to your support and participation.”

I wasn’t surprised. Nor was I angry or anything. I really wasn’t. Somehow, I was kinda expecting that this would happen. Why? ‘Cause I knew what I proposed was beyond the design brief, but with right reasons. This came as a surprise to the client, hence it’s no wonder that they would reply as they did. In an ideal scenario, as designer I would have discussed and negotiated with them right at the onset of the project (ideation phase) for a design that goes beyond mere stylistics/aesthetics, as I had done through the Book Bag proposal. Taking into consideration the business, technology, people  aspects around a product design, I had quite simply designed a business proposal rather than a product; the Book Bag was a higher-order sort of design, with the “product” as just one of the means of achieving a particular business goal. Sometimes this is called design management.

This is the kind of design that I’m really passionate about, as it’s more holistic in perspective and encompasses EVERYTHING. I’m tired of the pigeon-hole specialisation and compartmentalisation of the modern work-place. Just do your part and let others take care of the rest. Work in silos. Be efficient, but be emotionally removed from the larger picture. I wish to overcome this epidemic sense of myopia and tunnel vision in our every activity and our work, and to challenge myself and others to re-seek that fulfillment that comes from being part of a larger purpose.

So anyway, here’s my reply, not in retaliation nor anger, but in passionate advocacy to clarify the larger perspectives behind the Book Bag:

Click on image to read zooming version.


Next: the design discourse with NLB continues…