Design Within Time

Time, time, time- What comes to your mind?

I’ve always pictured this Salvador Dali’s famous painting when I think of time.

Persistence of Memory — Salvador Dali

Time, in its essence, is a measurement of indefinite progress of existence, closely and most often described through hours, minutes, seconds, and milliseconds. Throughout our tender days, we’ve learned to read the time on clocks and wristwatches — nowadays, it’s the timestamp on our devices.

Although, Have you ever wondered what role time plays in design?

You might find this relatable because amidst other things, we’ve always mostly only associated said time with duration and limit. You know what I’m talking about — Deadlines (that short limited time frame to execute a project brief ). I don’t know if you thought of time this way, but I’ve always imagined these short durations as fragments. Each fragment is made of tight time frames. In which these frames are the amount of time I have to do my projects.

Time Fragments — Illustration by Cindy Fentanes

Time sounds small and restricted, isn’t it?

But time isn’t always portrayed this way. The interpretation of the time is not always as a measurement of duration or the movement of clock hands. For me, time signifies bigger things than merely a deadline.

Out of all interpretations of design, I think design seen through the frames of time resonates to me the most. Through the years, my interpretation changes from a theoretical standpoint to an ‘image’ that closely describes my approach on design.

Here, let me tell you a little bit more.

In the beginning, I see time as part of a theory. To me, time is :

The Marker of an Era

Collage of Art Styles in Architecture, Fashion and Art Through Time

Renaissance, Bauhaus, Art Deco, Baroque, Art Nouveau.

Have you heard of these?

These are some of the more famous ones out of the long history of Art Styles over centuries ago. These art styles symbolized a particular methodology over objects, artforms, and clothing styles — how they were shaped and formed within each period. Each element is jarringly different, it enables people to recognize time through these objects.

Which is interesting — to be able to tell without the presence of a tool.

Though Art history is often not referenced as the description of Design, Art history is an integral part and has heavily influenced the making of modern design as we know it now.

Let’s see — Have you ever heard of these terms ? Minimalism, Avant-Garde, Contemporary, or perhaps Modern Design? Or what about Classic or Vintage Design? I’m sure you’ve heard it somewhere! These few are some of the more familiar art terms widely known and so familiarly used in describe painting pieces, architectural builds, or referencing clothing styles in this modern era.

Collage of Modern Art Styles in Architecture, Fashion and Art

Time in this definition might not be able to tell you an instant timepiece reading or directly defined as hours and minutes- it exists to tell you the grander story of a generation, in which you can recognize and identify.

Reflected Stories — Illustration by Cindy Fentanes

Then, slowly when deadlines become a continuous routine and stories about past eras are reduced to a mere style choice — My opinion of time too, shifted. I began to understand that time should not only be limited to one interpretation.

Again, time was so much more than a style choice.

I’ve then begun to see that time serves as a ‘metric’ to measure my growth.

And secondly, time is:

The Teller of Growth.

“ Give it time. “

Have you ever looked back on your very first design and thought how horrendous it was? Or have you suddenly hated the design you’ve put out just the day before?

I’ve learned through some of those experiences, that time will help you discover yourself. Time tells you when that happens, it means you’ve grown.

How you perceive your design today and last year might be different.

How you see your design today and tomorrow might not even be the same. But through knowledge and continuous practice, you’ll become more well versed in recognizing the little things.

And time lets you do that!

Think of it like a bottle of aged wine, so to say. The longer you cultivate it, the richer the taste becomes. The longer you give yourself time to grow, the longer you give yourself time to practice, the better you’ll be.

Time in this definition might not tell you the story of a generation or the passing of the hour, but it’s there to depict your growth, show progress and development.

Growth in Time — Illustration by Cindy Fentanes

While these two definitions of time may not be the perfect description of how time correlates to design, they’ve certainly helped me in my own process of self development and understanding of what design means and what I can do to be a better designer.

From what I’ve gathered, I learned that by appreciating styles and past trends, you’ll be able to see your strengths and weaknesses, understand better theories and how designers in the past designed their art forms.

By learning and appreciating growth, I learned that the best design comes from process. Each process may be different, it might vary depending on how difficult your task is, but when you arrive at a certain point of time and see your own improvements — I’m sure you’ll be proud of yourself.

In conclusion, there are multiple ways on how to describe time and what kind of connection it has with design. Time is a constant variable, in what way you perceive time and how it resonates with you, will be yours to think of.

So, what is time in design to you?




Stories about designing and building tech that matters to people.

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Cindy Fentanes

Cindy Fentanes

A designer, illustrator, photographer, travel-enthusiast , and (sometimes) active procrastinator.

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