Case study #2: Does technique always come last?

Back in the previous case study, I made the point that techniques always come late in the design process. When you build models to make an impact – as a message – techniques should always be dictated by your overall goal. If you build your model to be very LEGO-like, why should you care to get rid of the studs?

Mainman and Memory cleverly pointed out to me that within our medium, this order can seem paradoxal. Many of us create models “by accident” when we stumble upon a cool piece combination. And I admit: I do so myself.

When I fiddled around with the new speed racer windscreens (image courtesy of Legovaughan), I tried different combinations in order to create an interestingly shaped canopy. I came a long way – I managed to build a structure that kept them mirrored on top of each other, so as to create a convex window. However, the structure was too fragile, and didn’t hold. It broke.

And in the pieces on the table I saw a new shape.

I quickly readjusted the structure I had built, added some new pieces, fiddled a bit more, and wound up with a giant eye. Not knowing what to use it for, I kept it around for a few days. And I had an epiphany when I saw a movie with a very inspiring phrase – and then I instantly knew in what model the eye was meant to be.

Sometimes techniques do comes first. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go back and think about context later to make sure your techniques fit your goal. If there’s something wrong – adjust one of them to the other.

10 comments on “Case study #2: Does technique always come last?

  1. Pingback: LEGO Blog: The Brothers Brick » Blog Archive » Lego is communication

  2. Mad Physicist

    Interesting. I’ve been following these posts for a few weeks now and have thought about a few things. I’m not sure how much of this is applicable to the way I go about building.

    I don’t fiddle around with pieces not knowing what to make with them in advance. I may look at a particular new piece and recognise it as something that I can use for one of the many projects that I always have in mind.

    I don’t know what message I try to convey with my MOCs. I don’t think I am normally addressing anybody in particular with any of them, except when I build something with a public display in mind or for a competition. I’m mainly enjoying myself. I’ve been building with LEGO since the time I first could put two bricks together and I don’t go about building any differently now that I happen to share pictures of my models with the rest of the world, although I of course do enjoy it when people like my models and incorporate people’s suggestions.

    I’m not sure whether it was Peter Gabriel who said that he makes the music that he likes and if other people happen to like it too, that’s a bonus.


  3. Dez

    And why is TBB getting spammed? We all know that anything Linus writes is going to get at least one intelligent and lengthy post.

  4. Mad Physicist

    It’s not just a response to one post. The post is part of a series, after all. As for the length: I think I practiced restraint actually.


  5. Horace

    I insist that most of my MOCs tend to have a “life” to themselves. I usually start fiddling with certain pieces and I suddenly realize there’s something resembling a design. So I think technique usually comes first for me…or more properly, exploration of pieces and their combinations.

  6. Pingback: Lego is communication: summing up | The Brothers Brick | LEGO Blog

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