This isn’t as much a reflection on Rowe as it is on my own learning of the design process.

So constraints seems to be the big theme in this paper, but it’s not the thing that resounded with me. What did stand out was the use of sketches to reveal problem points and issues with the placement and composition of elements in the design.

I remember not too long ago I would have some crazy idea for a design (generally a poster or something two dimensional). I would immediately dive right into the digital tools to make it possible. Generally, this attempt would end with an Illustrator or Photoshop file in the trash can and me playing a video game to try to forget about the frustration of the last half hour. I think it took an introductory course in graphic design to correct that, but not until I had rage quit on a hundred projects.

I really enjoyed this quote:

Another aspect of design thinking that was evident in the foregoing case studies is the tenacity with which designers will cling to major design ideas and themes in the face of what at times might seem insurmountable odds.

I had a similar experience last year with a project I was working on for a typography class. I was arranging based on their content and continued to run into trouble as I finalized pages. Going back to my sketches allowed me to quickly iterate on different page arrangements.

Prior to my understanding of the role of sketches in the process I probably would have had a harder time on that project. It might have taken longer, or I might have produced a product of lesser quality, or I might have scrapped the idea altogether.  As it happened, though, I was able to fix these issues and concentrate on solving more fun problems, which made the entire experience enjoyable.

It might be a somewhat obvious observation, right? Sketches: who woulda thought? But, sketches can be so incredibly useful (and at times, overlooked) part of the design process.