what is design? [lecture 1]

the quintessential question that design students always encounter on the first day of class.


and the one that we will continue to try to answer for the rest of our lives.

design, as defined by Richard Seymour:
“making things better for people”
–but is that too broad?  mailmen and sanitation workers make things better for people…
design, from London’s Design Council:
design as translation:an activity that translates an idea into a blueprint for something useful”
–ah, that word ‘utility’…
design, according to the Danish Design Centre:
“design = aesthetics + added value”
–interesting that the DDC views design as a ‘result of deliberate and creative work on an idea, a problem or a desire for change’ — do they see design as an end product, instead of a process?
design, as grudgingly defined by John Heskett:
‘the human capacity to shape and make our environment in ways without precedent in nature, to serve our needs and give meaning to our lives’

–…inspirational, but what i actually agree most with is his opinion that discussion of a design definition is simply fraught with confusion because the word has too many levels of meaning.   in his book Design, A Very Short Introduction, he asks us to consider this sentence:


every use of the word ‘design’ is grammatically correct…

i get tired of answering this question [akin to the eons-old ‘what is art?’ wrangle], and wish to ask instead, what do we really gain by trying so hard to define it?


2 Responses to “what is design? [lecture 1]”

  1. 1 zzani

    haa.. i found it. tq

  1. 1 hiswitness' me2DAY

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