Designspiration: Where’s My Inspiration When I Need It?


“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


Inspiration is a fickle thing. It is difficult to be tasked with being creative daily, and I am often challenged to be constantly inspired by the world around me. Some days, I’m completely and utterly uninspired. But, when you’re on a schedule, a deadline and the work needs to get done, where’s the inspiration when I need it?!

In times like these, I turn to my design inspiration roots – the Italian Renaissance and French Baroque eras. I love these periods of design, known for formal gardens, high detail and symmetry. Unlike what most believe about landscape architects, I find symmetry to be visually pleasing.

I also try to figure out what causes my creative blocks. Usually, it’s because I am mentally scattered, which happens when I have a busy schedule without any breathing room. I find that I need some space and quiet in my head to think my best thought. This is probably why some of my best design solutions come to me in my dreams (hokey, I know).

Sometimes I just start drawing away – something to build design inertia. I’m not so worried about the quality of design. I am just trying to get kick-start the creativity, and who knows, maybe some good design will come out. I also try to “think inside the box,” as I find that trying to be intentionally creative usually ends up being counterproductive.

The good news for those of us that design in the “real world” is that there is a wealth of sources to find inspiration both online and off. First and foremost, explore your surroundings wherever you are. Walk around and look at your surrounding environment. What about these areas make quality design or space? The form, shape, details or other defining characteristics? Turn to visual resources like magazines, design blogs or books. Remember, however, there is a fine line between “inspired by” and “copied.”

outdoor spaces

It is our burden as designers to remain inspired even when it’s not the easiest thing to do. What are some of your ways to light the inspiration fire?

About the Author

Gordon Lemmel is a Landscape Architect for Peaks to Plains Design. Gordon serves as the Idaho-Montana ASLA Executive Board’s Secretary and the Billings Heights Kiwanis Vice President. With over five years experience, he has been a crucial component in Peaks to Plains Design’s award winning projects. Gordon surpasses clients’ expectations on every project he undertakes.