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Why Not?


This is the question that makes design go around. Everything we do is accompanied by a “why?” Color choices. Format. Media. Typeface. Concept. Paper weight. Composition. At every stage of the design process, from the very first mark on a page to the final approval on press, designers need to answer why. The why is important. The why helps us make smart decisions, and gives us a way to evaluate if what we have done is working or not. The why contextualizes our actions into intentional, meaningful choices.

Worth considering is the question that is asked less often: “why not?” Maybe we do not necessarily always need a rational, clear explanation of why we chose to do this instead of that. By asking why not (or, maybe it would be more accurate to say: by not asking why) we can allow ourselves to simply do. Sometimes it is incredibly useful to not have to answer why to a decision, because when you know you will not have to rationalize or defend a choice you made, you are open to try things you normally might not. Why can limit your actions, whereas why not can free them.

Injecting more “why not?” into the design process opens up designers to find new, original, and even surprising ways of creating design and communication. Why not can help us to move aside the path of trend and into more original directions, and helps us sidestep expectations and predictions. Asking yourself “why not?”—especially at the start of the design process—gives you permission to ignore answering “why?” and to eliminate the narrow definitions that can accompany it. Why can always be answered later, but why not can be an interesting way to start.

© Mitch Goldstein /