Design is the process of making choices in order to produce an intended outcome. Making choices can manifest themselves in a variety of forms including the medium, message, the experience, internal and external structures like websites and digital products, typography, hierarchy, composition, color choice, etc. Like the choices, the outcomes can encompass a broad range of actions including to educate, inform, empathize, delight, move, incite, etc. Design is both an act of observation and action. Design can both identify the problem and offer the solution. As the definition of design expands, the roles and responsibilities of the designer also expand.
This year I am teaching Design Criticism which is a lecture class that hasn’t been offered before in our curriculum. We have a lean faculty that typically does not allow for us to teach specialized interests and electives. We are mostly tasked with teaching the fundamentals of design where not many of our classes expand into subjects that are on the fringes of design or might be considered to be more experimental; though that is changing. Slowly, but it is changing. We have added more collaborative based studio courses where design students are partnering up with engineers, interior designers, business students, and marketing majors to reflect how the profession is changing.
This Design Criticism course is a reflection of our efforts to challenge students in subjects that aren’t typically considered design related. As a central part of this class, students will be required to write as a medium in which to create, criticize, and formulate and synthesize ideas.
Their first writing assignment was to write exactly 100 words on design; in a way, creating their own definition of design. The responses were varied. Some were expected while I could tell many of the students were really approaching this assignment like a design student—dissecting holistic ideas and presenting them in an order that made sense.
I took some short-hand notes on some of the ideas that my students came up with for the writing assignment:
Design as a process
Design as an experience
Everything is design
Design is full of paradoxes
Making ideas tangible
No right way
More than making things look nice
Design is a belief
Art in the real world
Encompasses many concentrations (interior, graphic, product, etc.
Make sense of the world
More than a logo
Design is a plan
Design is a machine
Design is the why
Living and evolving
Blend of practical, aesthetics and distinct
Communicating so an audience understands
Translating an idea built from the foundation of question, answer and expression
I challenge you to write 100 words on design. If you do, please share. I would love to give it a read.