A Box of Chocolates

Design is like a box of chocolates…if you shove all of the pieces in your mouth at the same time you’ll probably barf, but if you delight in one piece at a time the experience is magical.

There are many ways one can approach a box of chocolates:

  • one bite of each to be upfront in unraveling the mystery
  • blind commitment to whatever may hide behind each chocolate coating
  • praising the brilliant person who invented what is essentially a map for chocolate boxes (not everyone has adopted this utensil, though I am not sure why)
  • committing to consumption until you find your coveted choice piece

Whatever your philosophy, there are the inescapable realities of tolerance that all must endure; one’s stomach can only guzzle so much chocolate before delight turns into suffering.

Like chocolate, design has a delicate quality, much determined by the eminence in minimalism. If one design contains an obtuse amount of flavors, it will make the audience nauseous. This delicacy is successful somewhere in the harmony of minimalism and creative expression.

Early on in my design career, I was working on a logo design project and experienced the tension of this delicacy. I had recently been sketching a lot of vintage patches, incorporating hand drawn script lettering and it was a beautiful concept! I saw the logo design project as my chance to bring my concept to fruition and I was outright determined to make it work. Much to my demise, it wasn’t the right fit. I fought and fought and it just wasn’t working. I was trying to combine the client’s identity and preexisting brand with my own idea and it was like eating a whole box of chocolates all at once; it made me nauseous. Finally, someone pulled me away from the project  and proposed keeping a toolbox for my ideas. They validated my appreciation for vintage patches, agreeing there was something great about the sketches I loved so much, but suggested I keep the idea in a toolbox for a time more fitting. The final design we landed on was very simple and had been there the whole time; I had buried it underneath my own self-determination.


I have since adopted the practice of keeping a toolbox of my favorite details and my stomach is much more satisfied. When I find something inspiring, I put it in my toolbox. When I make something inherently beautiful that doesn’t have a place to belong, I put it in my toolbox. Later, when I am given a project, I sort through my toolbox to see if I have anything suitable. Sometimes I find that I do, and sometimes I don’t. Those moments when I come across a project that fits an idea I have stored away are magical moments! It is incredibly easy to become so engrossed in an idea, forgetting to delight in it properly. Don’t waste a precious idea on the wrong project. Don’t force an idea on a project, wait for it to have a place it belongs.

As far as design being like a box of chocolates, the toolbox is a container for creative expression and minimalism is the stomach’s tolerance. There are many ways one can approach design. There are many ways one can approach a box of chocolates.

“Mama always said life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” – Forrest Gump


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