what is design (to me)? what does it mean to be a designer.15 May 2016
this post is more of rant than organized thought. sorry in advance.
to me, the practice of design is the intersection of systems thinking and making. as a designer, the highest goal of ‘designing’ something is to make it more effective at being itself.
i’ve been struggling a little bit with the definition of design as it relates to things i do. in the past i have been a web designer and graphic designer. but, now many of the things i do (especially at work) are higher level design. i regularly design systems and programs, and yet that work isn’t called design work. i understand the value of being able to differentiate between different types of work. but almost all of my own work seems to involve the same general thinking:
- what is the purpose of this thing i’m making?
- who is it for?
- how is it expected to fulfill its purpose?
- how can i make it fulfill its purpose more effectively?
often, what comes up for me is 'elegance.’ this happens most obviously in visual or graphic design spaces. but the reason to make something visually appealing is simple. people are attracted to beautiful things. and when someone is attracted to something, it is more likely that the purpose of that thing will be fulfilled. in visual spaces, this often looks like stripping down excess, and making something 'elegant.’ the thing should only have what’s necessary for it to complete its purpose. this often results in simplicity and elegance.
but applying that thinking to other creations is just as possible. it is possible to design programs or initiatives that integrate functions so well that everything involved is related to delivering on its purpose. it’s less easy to see, but it happens.
so, i’m a designer. i design things at all scales: personal management systems, documents, workflows, systems (that learn).