Some Thoughts on Design

Design Image

Design is everywhere. In our modern society we are surrounded by designs that one of our kind have sat down, thought about, put pen to paper and produced a concept. Speaking metaphorically of course – these days designs are done on computer and by computer half the time.

According to Google’s dictionary, the noun definition of design is “a plan or drawing produced to show the look and function or workings of a building, garment, or other object before it is made.” The verb definition is “decide upon the look and functioning of (a building, garment, or other object), by making a detailed drawing of it.”

Wikipedia begins it’s definition of design by stating “Design is the creation of a plan or convention for the construction of an object, system or measurable human interaction…” [1]

Whilst the topic of design – definition and process – could consume pages and pages of writing (again, metaphor) I’ll stick to some of my thoughts and opinions.

I often find myself looking at a random object and thinking more about how it’s come to life rather than what it is on a face value. For example, look around and think about the first thing you lay your eyes on. Now stop looking at it for what is, and think about the person or team that designed it. Ask yourself questions such as did the designers come up with this design from creativity, i.e. they invented it, or were they given a directive from say marketing team who already knew there would be market for the product? How much flexibility did the designer(s) have or were they constrained by factors such as size, colour, budget, etc. Was the market demographic the designer was going for? Questions like these get me wondering about the design and intent of many objects that form part of my life.

Then there is the wondering about the design of less materialistic objects, such as lets say a business process. Not technically defined by Google’s dictionary as quoted above, however someone still needed to come up with the process, i.e. the design, testing, revision, repeat testing, and implementation. Franchises are so successful because of their systems and processes, which have been refined and then packaged up and sold to aspiring entrepreneurs. Next time your in the shopping centre, which is pretty much full of franchises, take a look and observe how the staff operate and how they follow the same procedures. Ask yourself why was this designed in this way, for what purpose? Is it productivity/efficiency? Is it customer service? Is it for ease of understanding thus required lessor skilled labour?

There are always reasons, factors, etc. etc. which contribute to a particular design of which I think we will mostly never know about thanks to marketing and mass production. However thinking about it helps to see behind the scenes a little bit and perhaps broaden/feed an appreciation for how clever man kind really is.


1. Wikipedia page on Design –