Authentic design – a lesson from cinema

It was while reading how exiled Iranian film director Abbas Kiarostami approached his work that I realised that the great filmmaker has something important to say to designers and marketing professionals in every sector. Kiarostami says ‘in all my films not a single shot comes from cinema,’ thereby highlighting that the freshness and originality of his vision doesn’t come from other films, but from real life and his own experiences and emotions.

If you’re a designer how often have you persuaded a client to take a specific approach or creative solution mainly because you had seen it done elsewhere and thought it was cool? That’s like taking a sequence from someone else’s movie and making it part of your own. Great influences are always useful, but if you don’t learn to create with your own voice and accent then you’ll always be a follower instead of a leader.

Similarly, if you’re a marketing professional or business owner, how often do you want to use the latest trend or marketing tool because you’ve seen it somewhere else, or read about it in a LinkedIn post and want that feature as part of your site and brand experience? Sometimes in the always-on rush of modern business, it’s hard to stop and simply ask why.


There’s much to be said for keeping up with the latest trends such as parallax scrolling and flat design, or the coming implications for businesses of 3D printing and the internet of things. But it’s also good to realize that those great ideas that you’re looking for may not be in the latest edition of Wired, but may already be in your own head and in your own business and creative plan.

Think about who you are and what you’re planning to achieve with you life and your business and then chose the tools that will help to get you there. Use the approach that will help you reach the targets you really want to reach, rather than one that’s fashionable.

In design, this authentic approach means developing a design and visual language that really says who you are and what you do. It’s not borrowed or reimagined from someone else – it’s authentic for you and suits your personality and your values.

An authentic approach to design creates authentic brands – brands that don’t need to borrow everything from somewhere else as they have a point of view they want people to know about and unique values they are confident in expressing.

You’ll find that if you take a Kiarostami approach, the people who use your products and services, or visit your site, will feel they are connecting with something real – something they can understand and relate to, as it’s not simply something they’ve seen better executed elsewhere.

By all means have influences, but learn from them rather than be overpowered by them, and celebrate the authentic voice of your personality and your brand.

‘I am what I show to people’ says Kiarostami showing us in his work an original view of life and of cinema. It’s an approach we would do well to apply to each area of our own work and life, if we want to produce original thoughts, create new and cutting edge brands, or have authentic feelings that are something more than the strung together sequences from someone else’s movie.


Read our review of Abbas Kiarostami’s latest movie here.



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