As designers, we’re often faced with the challenge of finding a unifying theme or structure for our work. To say it poetically, the theme is waft on which we weave our art.
More frankly, it’s a crutch. A design project involves hundreds if not thousands of decisions. Space, color, scale, typography, heirarchy, tone. All of these decisions can be absolutely overwhelming.
Until you find a theme. The theme turns all of those decisions into just one simple question: Does this fit? It lets us use our brain in that lateral, complex, quantum way. We can immediately test any decision against that “feeling” of fit. It provides a compass, a grounding, a center from which everything can radiate.
In all of my experience, whenever I’ve been stuck or someone I’m working with is stuck, the missing ingredient is theme.
All of the upfront work in planning and consumer research and input briefs and brands statements are all about one thing: providing that theme.