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Raise a hand if you are a designer and have been through this situation:
“— What do you do for work?
— I’m a designer.
— Oh nice.. But what does that really mean?
For years, every time I heard this question I have wanted to run away, and I noticed that some friends of mine, who are designers too, have wanted to do the same. It’s difficult to summarise what design is because there are so many perspectives to combine.
As a graphic designer, I tended to define design as a visual way of projecting a solution. I don’t think it’s wrong, but.. Does it always have to be visual?
It was hard for me to think that design couldn’t be just a visual way of doing things, because of the way design is taught in universities (or at least as it was in my case). But the truth is that it can be much more than that.
After my graduation I made a specialisation in branding and now I’m a Master’s student in Design Management. These specialisations plus some professional experiences I have had opened my mind to what I believe design is.
Last week I read a post on Medium that caught my attention. Akhil MK was interested in defining what marketing is to him and he wanted to know the point of view of other people from this area too.
In fact, those people are big names in marketing like Seth Godin, Derek Sivers and Dan Pink. He sent an email to them with the question: If you were to define “marketing” within 140 characters, what would that be? You can see the answers here.
Akhil MK says that “You can spend years as a marketing professional and still end up clueless when your inner 4th grader asks what your job role means.” And I think that if we change the word “marketing” to “design” the sentence will still make sense. Don’t you think?
Because of that, I did the same exercise.
Starting with me
A product, a service or even a process has something in common: All them are solutions for something or someone. Take a look at the term “to design a solution”, design has a big role here.
Considering that, for me “design is a process of connecting people to create any kind of solution.”
What do others designers think?
The difference between what I have done and what Akhil MK did is that I didn’t contact big names in design, I sent an email to some friends that have studied or worked with me.
I wanted to compare my definition and give them some hard work too ? (Thank you guys!)
So the answers were:
“Understanding something, setting parameters, creating shapes that are beyond shapes, this is design.”
“Design is project. It is the process of creating a solution to a problem through a methodology in a certain period of time.”
“Design is the skin of culture. The person’s first contact with whatever it is: object, art, tool, clothing. If first impressions are important, it is by merit (and duty), design.”
“An aesthetic and functional way to solve a project.”
“Design is to find solutions for the needs of society, combining functionality, aesthetics and sustainability.”
“Design is to discover and understand the problem through simple or complex processes. And then, validate and build the solution.”
“Design is a thought, an interpretation and a solution. It’s to invent, to reinvent, to modify and to evolve.”
“Design is to create human-centered products, services, and experiences focused on the user and with a positive social outcome.”
“Design is to create solutions. Those could be visual, ergonomic or organizational. It integrates, coordinates, projects and transforms.”
Ok, some of them exceed the limit of characters, I forgive them. The important is that all answers are sentences that summarise design. There are some of those sentences that are more close to what I believe design is in essence, but my thoughts are that there isn’t a sentence that is “the right definition of design”, all are definitions about it.
So I have to ask.. What is your definition for design?