Ignorant about design

A lot of people, including designers, are ignorant about design.

When they think design, they think fashion and style. They think about how something looks; the style, the “feel”, the colours, the visuals, the composition, and the textures.

Design is a process for understanding and solving problems. It seeks to balance user needs with business needs and technical constraints; to arrive at the most elegant solution; one that is elegant in use, production, maintenance, lifespan, aging and disposal. And yes at the end of all that, the solution need to be visually engaging, stimulating and appropriate too.

This lack of fundamental understanding makes design harder to teach, to learn, to practice and to sell. It renders the practice of design into little more than waiting and hoping for divine inspiration. And when that comes, it will still primarily revolve around how something looks.

This also artificially skews the visibility of the various design professions. Look and style focused disciplines like fashion design gets centre stage (it really annoys me when people assume “designer” = “fashion designer!”) Whereas “non-visual” design disciplines like process design and service design become invisible.

Design is not just about how something looks. Ray Eames once said “What works good is better than what looks good, because what works good lasts.”

Think about it.

2 comments

  1. Tanneke said:

    The Shakers were almost 200 years ahead of you: “form follows function.”

  2. Zern said:

    Love Shaker design :)

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