Design is thought, is expression, is emotion, is appearance, is perception, is subjective, is beautiful, is horrifying, is everything…
Design is universal.
When speaking of design, it is easy to get lost in thoughts and explanations; attempting to apply a definition to something that can be so specific, and yet obscure, becomes a daunting task. I myself can’t really assign a specific meaning to the term because for me, it is constantly changing. When I write, I commit a common mistake that many architects/designers make―I’ll type a word that is familiar to me and look for synonyms to make my writing seem more educated than it actually is (seems like a good idea at the time, but it becomes a problem when I go through my finished work and can’t understand my own idea). Anyway, when I type in the word “design” and commit the infamous “right click,” I get a list of words: plan, intend, aim, mean, devise, propose, drawing, and blueprint. Ignoring the last two (because they specifically refer to a certain type of design), I am able to gain a more concise understanding of the term.
Design is a calculated form of expression.
Consciously or not, we all go out into the world and play a part in design. Some may ask, “If design is all about intent, how can we all be a part of it?” I believe that everything we do as individuals has a level of purpose behind it. We select clothes for ourselves in the morning, listen to a specific type of music, eat certain types of food, compose sentences in a specific way when we speak or write… all of this is designed whether we are aware of it or not. The difference lies in the contribution of the individual. Do we choose to set examples of good design or do we choose to follow the established norm?
I believe that success as a designer comes first from being aware of and understanding the design that permeates society, and second, making a conscious contribution to that design (architecture, fashion, literature, marketing, graphics, etc). We create standards, set trends, and blaze new trails; as designers, we are successful if we can convince others to see and buy into our vision.
The understanding and pursuit of good design is a continually evolving process. If we allow ourselves to sit still, we run the risk of getting left behind in a wave that is in constant motion instead of becoming a part of what is happening on top of it.
Image—Flickr CC: Aby Jose