What is design? (3 min)
Design is often associated with pretty images, posters and logos, sometimes also with architectural prints and things of that sort. But what does it actually mean to design or to be a designer? After many years of studying design, and taking part in various design projects from visual design, through system design to experiential design I define it in the following way:
Design is an informed, rigorously thought-through iterative decision-making process that aims to achieve the desired outcome through appropriate problem setting. Moreover, it considers the impacts of those outcomes over time, to judge whether they remain desirable.
We have to make decisions every day. Some are trivial but others may be life-changing. Your ability to make good decisions will ultimately give you the best shot at having the life you want to lead. These decisions are often, in significant ways, design decisions.
Everyone is a designer .. but not quite!
You may say I have got this far in my life without having had to design anything so why should I even bother reading about it? But, if you think about design in everyday life, the clothes you choose to put on in the morning, the food you choose to eat, the people you hang out with, the university you go to, etc. are all design decisions. With every decision, you are designing your every day and that's how everyone is a designer, but hold on not so fast…
Any person when making a decision acts upon intuition, habits and external influence on the level of emotion. A professional designer, however, theorises and dives deep into the process of decision making. And that's how not everyone is a designer.
As a caveat, it is worth mentioning that not every professional designer would apply design skills in everyday life and some non-pro designers intuitively apply design in their decision-making.
Almost every decision you make in life is a design decision. Making better decisions does not guarantee success but it can give you much more control than not using it. Design is a meta-craft and if used in everyday life will give you the best chance of living the life you want in the way that you want to.
Design disciplines are areas of study and practice within the field of design. Some common design disciplines include:
- Graphic Design (Visual Design) - Involves the creation of visual identities for brands which may include visual elements, such as logos, colour schemes, packaging, typefaces, to communicate information and ideas that belong to a particular brand.
- Industrial Design - Focuses on the design and development of physical products, such as furniture, appliances, and automobiles.
- Interior Design - Concerned with the design and decoration of interior spaces, including homes, offices, and commercial buildings.
- Fashion Design - Involves the creation of clothing and accessories, including the selection of fabrics, patterns, and styles.
- Architecture - Involves the design and planning of buildings and other structures, including the use of space, materials, and technology.
- User Experience (UX) Design - Involves the design and development of products and services that are easy to use and meet the needs of the people who use them.
- Motion Design - Involves the design and animation of moving images and graphics, often used in film, television, and digital media.
- Game Design - Involves the creation of the game mechanics, rules, and overall gameplay experience in video games.
- Landscape Design - Involves the design and development of outdoor spaces, including gardens, parks, and other public spaces.
- Service Design - Involves the design and development of service experiences, including the design of customer interactions and touchpoints.
- Experiential design is a design discipline that focuses on creating immersive and engaging experiences for users. This can include physical spaces, such as museums, theme parks, and retail stores, as well as digital experiences, such as virtual reality and augmented reality. The goal of experiential design is to create a sense of presence and connection for the user, using a combination of design elements such as lighting, sound, and other sensory cues. It is a multidisciplinary field that draws on a variety of design disciplines, such as architecture, industrial design, graphic design, and user experience design. It aims to create a holistic and memorable experience for the user, which can be educational, entertaining, or both.
This list of design disciplines should be viewed as a guide rather than a strict division, as many of them overlap and influence one another.