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Posted February 9th by Design Splat in #WW - Writers Wednesday, Lily

Design Alchemy

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana; Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie; gin and tonic; Bert and Ernie. Each partnership is comprised of two unmistakably individual and unique components – however bring those two halves together and a whole new powerhouse is formed – D&G; Brangelina; G&T; and well, who can resist the charm of Bert and Ernie?! Collaborations are all around us in our day to day lives, and are a key part of the design industry. High end designers collaborating with the high street, shoe designers working with a fashion house for a runway show – see the genius Louboutin/Rodarte collaboration of 2008 – and how many songs on your iTunes are by X feat. Y? These design combinations produce an end result often so different and unexpected that the process could be likened to the mythical alchemy – turning metal into gold. This got me thinking. Is it only the established designers who can achieve alchemy, or could we create design gold too?

One of my favourite dress designs featured a friend’s photography transferred on to the fabric and worked on top of. The combination of our work produced an entirely individual look that allowed us both to experiment with new techniques that neither of us had even contemplated before. Next time you are working on a piece, consider your other creative friends and colleagues in order to generate your own X feat. Y. Are you an illustrator who could liven up the packaging of a product designer? Or are you a make-up artist who could lend your services to a photographer looking to diversify their portfolio? Or perhaps you’re a graphic designer who could create a striking album cover and promotional material for an up and coming band?

No matter what field of design you are in, your skills will be transferable to another area. Combine the two areas and alchemy should follow, allowing you to create something that you may never have conceived without the collaboration, and giving you an entirely new angle to your portfolio. It may take a while to create the perfect combination of your styles, but alchemy was never imagined to be easy. Centuries ago, men and women spent their entire lives trying to turn base metals into precious gold, in the hope of creating that magical transformation. The difference with design alchemy however, is that it’s not a mythical process. It is perfectly achievable with some perseverance and experimentation, as long as you are willing to try something new.

And if you’re a bit anxious to try something you’re not used to and make that leap of faith into a collaboration with a fellow designer, just remember that those who built the Titanic were supposedly professionals. Noah, on the other hand, was an amateur – and he built the ark. I think we know who was more successful.

Love Lily


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