Designing with Constraints: Project Runway x IKEADesigning with Constraints: Project Runway x IKEADesigning with Constraints: Project Runway x IKEA

Designing with Constraints: Project Runway x IKEA

“Designers: Create an outfit using materials in your apartment.”

Tell me more: We love thinking about how to use the power of constraints to drive creative work. Many of us, in designing projects in our classrooms, struggle to find the balance between total freedom and restrictive guidelines. So, we often look to reality television shows – like Project Runway and Top Chef – that feature challenges that are both inspiring and bound by specific rules. We’ve noticed that these challenges, which might involve making a garment from an unconventional material like candy or coffee filters, limit certain factors over and over again: Time, budget, materials, client, place (“Cook a 12-course meal on the beach”) or purpose (“Design an outfit for surviving on a desert island”).

We’ve designed our own challenge that we often lead during our Campfire workshops for the purpose of exploring the idea of creative constraints. We invite participants, in pairs, to “design a garment for the end of the world” in ~40 minutes using a limited number of materials: 1 IKEA bag, 1 pair of scissors, a small piece of tape and an obstruction that is unique to each partnership.

Classroom Applications: We’ve led the IKEA challenge with our students, but we’ve also designed projects that are inspired by these types of constraints. We typically constrain materials, time, program/purpose (what is the garment for?), place, and/or budget.

Go Further: