I came across this on a post on Designer News*. I can't emphasise enough how much this exchange of "problem and answer" encapsulates what it is to be a (good?) designer.
Mike Harris, Web Designer @ Outfits for Penguins
The rolly chair I have in my home office is starting to tear up the surface of my crappy hardwood floor, but all of the floor mats for hard surfaces I'm finding are hideous — anyone know of any solutions that are a little easier on the eyes?
Anne Berlin, Art Director @ Mamadoodoo
Can you replace the wheels with rubber wheels? I know some chairs have the option when you buy them.
By thinking out of the box, Anne remembered the hardest yet simplest thing; "the problem is the solution".
The problem? The wheels on the chair are ruining the floor.
The solution? Change the wheels.
It's such an obvious answer, that when you first read it your initial thought is to discard the reply as "boring" or "obvious", yet that's exactly what makes it so great. When approaching a design problem it's easy to add a gazillion layer styles in Photoshop and present it to your client with a feeling of satisfaction. I've been there, and sadly it's often the easiest way to tackle a problem - one need only look at Dribbble for dozens of examples - but other times, you just need to step back, rephrase the problem, and change the wheels.
*All names have been changed.