On the Meaning of Design

In our first class in fine arts we tried to figure out what “design” actually means and what it’s good for.

First of all think about what the word “design” does when added to another word. Like in designer footwear, designer furniture, designer screw driver etc. Obviously it acts like a quality enhancement, meaning that designer clothes are better than normal or discounter clothes. But why do companies bother to produce designer couches or bottles? Aren’t the “normal” ones just as usable? The answer is yes, everything’s fine with most normal products and services BUT the market is immensely flooded with different providers so only the “special ones” get more attention. Design is the perfect way to make YOUR products stick out of the average and sell.

Therefore market research is crucial for every provider. With enough good information the product or service can be improved enough to sell better, though it might not be literally better than what the competition is offering. It’s only better adjusted to what the customers think they need. Advertisement is business worth millions!

There are some basic rules a good industrial design has to follow:

  • use people’s need to express individuality and prestige (social/cultural function)
  • keep costs as low as possible for the client (economy)
  • find the best and most inexpensive materials and ways of production (technology)
  • consider important ecological issues like energy balance, recycling and consumption of raw materials (ecology)
  • design an appealing form that at the same time integrates all the factors mentioned before (aesthetics)

As you can see there is a lot more to design than simply creating beautiful objects and images. That would be something free artists can consider an option 😉 If you want to read more on Art vs. Design click here.