A visit this weekend to see the Per Kirkeby excibition at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art near Copenhagen made me reflect on how Per Kirkeby’s artistic process resembles the iterative design process of software development. He describes his process as:

“Painting is laying layer upon layer …It is like the geological strata with cracks and discordances. But each new layer, however furious, is always infected and colored by the underlying one.”, Per Kirkeby at Christies

The iterative design process that results in a finished Per Kirkeby painting is a series of paintings put on top of each other, where each layer influences the one after until the perfect balance wished for has been reached. An individual layer of paint means nothing, but together they all tell a story.

The same can be said about iterative design processes. The end result reflects a series of design iterations, where changes along the way are not necessarily visible in the final design, but nonetheless part of the it.

Product design should always be seen of an iterative process where each iteration, however as useless as it may seem, is an important part of reaching the end result.

Anders Toxboe Author

Based out of Copenhagen, Denmark, Anders Toxboe is a Product Discovery coach and trainer, helping both small and big clients get their product right. He also founded UI-Patterns.com and a series of other projects. Follow Anders at @uipatternscom.