Designing for the Self: Navigating the Endless Cycle of Ideas and Redesigns

Most architects are experts in designing for others but when it comes to designing for themselves, they mostly find it difficult to arrive at a final design. This doesn’t only affect architects but also engineers, graphic artists etc.

Designing for oneself can be an endless painful experience because of the volume of ideas you carry, the tendency to overthink and the inability to settle for any… and this will mostly lead the architect to an endless cycle of design ‘merry-go-round’.

Every designer sets out to achieve the best possible design at every given time both for themselves and others.

Often it leads to designing and redesigning till they are satisfied with the final product, but this search for perfection and ultimate beauty becomes obvious when they have to design for themselves.

Mostly they get into a cycle of design where they discard and recommence a new design either because they aren’t satisfied anymore or someone said something about it.

‘Design for self ‘cycle

The design for self cycle involves a series of event that regularly repeats themselves in the same order when architects design for selves.

It starts with design, modifications, and re-modifications until the design is discarded and another is commenced. In fact, this design cycle is continuous for most architects until their building construction reaches completion.

At which point they become full of dissatisfaction mostly arising from an incomplete or imperfect design.

Causes of the‘Design for self ‘cycle

This cycle emanates from the architect’s desire to attain perfection, optimum functionality and beauty in all his work.

This in reality isn’t always attainable but because these architects are both clients and designers over their project, they have no one to call them to order. No defined design brief, no design duration, and no cost attached to excess time spent designing.

Below are the stages of the design cycle:

Design⇒ Modify⇒ Re-modify⇒ Discard ⇒ Redesign

How the ‘Design for self ‘cycle can be addressed

Exercise discipline and structure the design process

In other to address this challenge, designers and architects need to:

  1. Subject themselves to the same discipline and structure they would if they were working on other peoples’ projects.
  2. Have proper briefs for their projects; define design duration and work with other architects so they can add variety and inputs to their ideas as well as call them to order when they embark on the ‘design for self’ cycle.

Outsource design to another architect

Also, you can outsource your personal architectural projects to other equally good architects whose work you admire. So in that case you will act as a client over your project and also make design inputs only where necessary.

Use old designs

Search for an old design that perfectly fits your brief and taste, then find a way to implement it. If you need to make adjustments to the designs only make minimal ones.

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