The finished piece on its own, however, frequently acts as a seductive screen that distracts us from this higher level of investigation. The allure of the veneer hides many of the choices (good and bad) that were a part of the construction; the seams are sanded out and all the lines made smooth.
One of my favourite writers and thinkers on design, how we do what we do, and more importantly, why we do it, on the danger of evaluating work on only its finished form — of asking how it was made, rather than why. The artist's process, the back-and-forth between close up to the canvas, making the art, and analysing it from afar, thinking about the art, is far more important than the tools and techniques he employed.
This plagues a lot of the conversation around design today. There's an over-emphasis on the outward appearance of the work, without the context required to understand why it looks the away it does, how its component parts fit together and why they do.
This is the reason I make sure to show my work when presenting to a client. If a design is surprising, in a good way, original, there's no surer way to doom it to oblivion than with a dramatic, ‘Voilà!’. But if the client has made the same journey across the sea of logic, meaning and rationale as I have, reaching the same conclusion I did, the idea is his as much as it's mine, and it will be allowed to live and grow, because I asked Why? as I worked, and shared the answer with the client.
It's also why I won't typically accept a brief to design ‘a logo’. It's a rare logo, one drawn with exceptional craftsmanship and ingenuity, that can live and be judged in isolation from all the other bits and pieces of an identity — and even then, one can't adequately decide on the most appropriate approach to take for the logo — illustrative icon? simple wordmark? adaptable context-aware mark? hand-lettered script? — without doing the requisite thinking, exploring and asking Why?