I first note down main components that would generate one whole design entity. From these I try to isolate one component that I feel is most important one. For example while designing a health care facility different components can be doctors, paramedics, patient, attendants, nursing, pharmacy etc. Depending on kind of health care facility that is envisaged I choose a component e.g. Patient, then I try to relate different perimeters like desired environment, activity patterns, communication etc. and develop various spatial models for that one component only. Later on when I feel I have enough material on one chosen component; I try to relate it to other components and develop interactive spatial models. Finally a design pattern emerges that leads me to first sketch and then various combination are tried out. only when I am totally satisfied with fully developed sketch design I venture to explore visual elements which may some time require me to modifications. This design method is tried out by me over nearly 30 years time and generally it has produced satisfying solutions for me. What is important at each stage is extent of involvement with each component in creative way. However, what works for me need not be the only method. Hope this helps you.
For me it works better when I think first what i want to achieve... then I start a design process; writing down ideas, doing sketches,thinking... Then suddenly the inspiration comes in the moment less expected.
Well, I personally think that there always be new ways to make things we do. ALWAYS. If that wasn't true, we were doing floor plans on drawing table yet. You only have to think in NEEDS. That's the source of every "something new", actually that's the source of every new out coming product you can buy. Specifically, you have to think in NEEDS ON TIME. I will explain.
Needs in 18 century, are the same just right now, but the way we solve it isn't. In past time, houses had fireplace for a heat needs in winter. At today, houses has the gas heater. The need is the same, but the way we solve is totally different. In past time, we talked to people in other locations by disc dialing telephone. At today we can do it by cell phone. What is the need? To communicate. How do we resolve it?....that's your "something new". There is some needs that change or can be created over time. For example: how should you resolve the eventual need for living in moon? Oh yes!!.... anti gravity moon homes!!...That's your "something new". Greetings.