In order to establish a great idea, you must put the rules aside and start with a dream.
As we grow from children to adults, we learn rules. The reason for this is that when we find ourselves in similar situations, we are able to apply those rules and react to a situation more adeptly than the one that we last encountered. The simple fact here is that when God designed this ruling mechanism, he was more focused on the human 1.0, the hunter gatherer than version 7,651 the 21st century designer. This decision he made was undoubtedly useful for survival but it also means that the more rules we learn, the easier it is to see them than the possibility that they over cloud.
Now with this in mind, when it comes to great design we have two options: we either look to younger generations for our ideas or we have to remind ourselves that the dream must come before reality. Rather than navigating through the countless rules, give yourself a blank piece of paper and focus first on the unfiltered idea.
The reason that this concept has particular importance links back to our very evolution. As time goes on, the rules change. The limitations created by a rule that you learned fifteen years ago may no longer apply today. In the same way that it is possible for the modern designer to travel from London to New York much faster than was previously possible, due to advances and efficiencies in technology, it is more than likely that another external factor, like technology, may have also changed, allowing your idea to be closer to reality than it would have been in a previous encounter of a similar situation.
The mind tells you that the numbers of rules are increasing, when in actual fact the opposite is true. With the development of manufacturing techniques, new materials and greater access to shared knowledge, they are in fact becoming more flexible.
The conclusion here is simple, when your instinct tells you to apply the rules when approaching a new challenge force yourself to focus only on the idea first before relooking at the rules as only then can you achieve the true possibility.
Design, unlike art, is the perfect marriage of the possibility and parameters. In order to achieve our best possible reality, we must focus on expanding the existing possibilities of the process, while continually pushing the parameters.
Whether you are designing stationery, furniture or space shuttles, use this new way of thinking in any manner of design practice and you will join the select group of people who have broken the moulds, changed and left their mark on skylines.