Knolling – The Trend That Kills Creativity

We are not usually big fans of trends, because they are the opposite definition of creativity and free expression. However, we cannot go through the world (the designers’ world, we mean) without noticing what is going on around us.

And here’s what we have noticed recently: knolling. At first, we though it’s just a passing fad, like the mosquito season in summer. But apparently we were wrong. Knolling is on the rise and seems to be here to stay for a while. Therefore, it is our duty to investigate it a bit.

Order and Progress?

The first knolling instances got us thinking of the Brazilian flag with its motto: order and progress. It seemed that some designers were finding their inner peace and creativity by painstakingly putting order into every single item on a table, in a room. See below. These are a few instances of knolling.

tumblr_m9xmib7ge41qbycdbo1_500 13-knolling 20-knolling

Possibly, when you are in the initial phases of conceiving a new design, this works. You have your colored pens at 9 o’clock, the soft tip pen at 2 o’clock and the ruler at 12 o’clock. It sounds like turning the Adobe Photoshop toolbox in real life and if this works for you to help you be more creative and productive, then good for you. Each designer must find his comfort zone.

Taking Things to the Limit

You know that you’ve started suffering from designer’s OCD when everything around you must be categorized and ordered. Whether you color code all items in a drawer or label them by type and neatly place them in one single place, your workplace is now a nice and antiseptic hospital for clinically orderly people.





There’s nothing wrong with a bit of order, so you can find stuff when you need it, but we feel that creativity needs to retain that bohemian touch. A designer should remain an artist at heart. Artists were never known to be the staple of tidiness. You may wonder if that artist is still living and breathing inside you if you get deeply disturbed by images like these:

leaning-tower-of-pisa-picture dormthumb.php


No One Lives In His Bubble

And if it is in your nature to put everything in its place, remember that you are not on a desert island, alone with your neatly ordered things. You have clients or co-workers. They may be the exact opposite and feel absolutely compelled to bring a little chaos to your order. Will you be able to work with them? Will you be able to get over the chaos and focus on your task?

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  • I liked to watch Monk on tv and therefore have a little understanding (and smile) for the beauty of that obsessive desire for order. But, but… I would by no means consider that as creative.

  • Andy Oakey

    Would love to be on a dessert island, personally. I’d never starve.

  • Pingback: Knolling- The Trend That Kills Creativity | Design News()

  • Duncan Noel Campbell

    I blame Martha Stewart (sorry Martha, I still love you…)

    I started out as a visual artist, where disorder and chaos created interest and added soul: it meant making your work come alive. As I transitioned into graphic design, just the opposite seemed to be true: order and structure were the goals—Knolling seems to be the ultimate expression of those.

    The farther along I got in my design career however, I began to realize that really good work had a balance of both. Really stunning, mature design had an effortless, surprising balance of disarray and structure. Sadly, knolling doesn’t have that balance.

Ionut B
Digital Art Director with an innovative creative thinking able to translate ideas and concepts into useful and memorable interactive marketing campaigns.

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