The Journey Into Design

5 Tips on How to Iterate Designs Without Ripping Off Someone Else’s Work

elliptical oval table - How to iterate on design

Creating original furniture designs can be a challenging task, especially when the work of others inspires you. While it’s tempting to copy or imitate someone else’s design, it’s always my goal to iterate on their work far enough so that my design is truly inspired by their design rather than a rip-off of their work.

Here are 5 tips on how to iterate your designs:

  1. Understand the original design: Before you start iterating, take time to understand the original design. Study it carefully and note the key elements that make it stand out. Consider the design’s colors, textures, shapes, proportions, and composition, and try to identify what makes it unique.
  2. Identify the aspects that inspire you: Once you understand the original design, identify the aspects that inspire you. Ask yourself what you like about the design, what elements you would like to incorporate into your own work, and what changes you would make to make it your own. Can you improve on the design by iterating its function, proportions, etc?
  3. Brainstorm ideas: Start brainstorming ideas with a clear understanding of the original design and the aspects that inspire you. Think of ways to incorporate the elements you like into your design, and consider how you can make it unique and original. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different colors, shapes, and textures.  Can you come up with spin-off ideas? For example, if you are inspired by a chair design, can you create an end table with a similar look and feel, pulling in the elements you like from the original?
  4. Iterate and refine: As you start working on your design, iterate and refine it. Make changes and adjustments until you feel that your work is original and unique. The original may have a fat bulky leg, and you may like a thinner, more elegant leg.  Sketch these ideas to see what they look like as you bring them to life. Then sketch again, trying a different proportion.  Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things; your goal through this process is to create something that’s truly your own and speaks to your own sensibilities.
  5. Test your design: Once you’ve finished your design, test it to see how it compares to the original. Ask others for feedback and see if they can identify any similarities or differences. You may be surprised as to how far you changed it based on your choices.

Creating original art and furniture designs inspired by someone else’s design can be challenging. However, with the right mindset and approach, you can iterate far enough to create something that’s truly your own. Remember to understand the original design, identify what inspires you, brainstorm ideas, iterate and refine, and test your design to ensure that it’s truly original and unique.

I’m the owner of Benham Design Concepts, a mixed media art studio where I design and build custom furniture and other works of art using wood, glass, stone, and various metals.
In this blog, I talk about the art I create, my journey, and the things I learn along the way.