The One Writing Tip I Learned From A Designer

Anyone who has ever made anything knows that being creative is hard work. For anyone who has written anything, you know this well: the task can be a monster.

Like most forms, you’re balancing two things: a point of view with accessibility and understanding. You can add artistic flourish until you’re breathless but, if people have no idea what you’re saying, you have failed.

This was reminded to me after having a conversation highly regarded designer Konstantin Grcic. Grcic is known for creating somewhat pensive, sleek objects like the Magis Chair and the Mattiazzi Medici chair. He’s also kind of a babe. I was lucky to be able to meet with him for a brief period in a stuffy meeting room above a crowded convention center in Milan during Design Week to get to a peek into a new lamp he made with Flos. The resulting story was published on Cool Hunting—but our chat was much richer than [insert thoughts on lamp].

Grcic instead waxed on about the nature of design, sharing accessible thoughts applicable to any discipline. “Good design has an open side to it,” he said. “It makes a proposal of something and invites people to engage with it in that way that they feel in charge of it, in control of it.” What is the point of making something if it’s a one-sided conversation? That’s what I took from the thought.

One thing he said that didn’t make into the Cool Hunting story was a candid note about writing, relating the practice to design as exercises in restraint. It’s one of the best writing tips I’ve ever heard—and it came from a non-writer.

In writing, saying things in just a few words and, in just a few words, it’s about triggering the imagination of the reader rather than telling them exactly everything.

Creating is about that balance, between point of view and understanding. Less is more, as they say. All creatives need to hand hold a bit but we must give our audience more credit than we might afford them. Everyone is smarter than we think.

I was a bit stunned when he said this. He was commiserating this thought to me, as if I was more than “an online writer,” as if he knew “my work.” It was a candid moment of clarity from one creative to another. It’s absolutely indispensable advice and I thusly had to share.

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