Being a designer has many pros and cons. Some of the pros; we get to be creative, wear jeans to work, surfing photo blogs is ‘research’ and so on. The cons? There are quite a few, but the one I want to touch on is attitude. The perspective of many of those not directly involved in a design field is that it’s an added bonus. The ‘icing on the cake’ of what they consider ‘real work’. They’re wrong. Here’s why.
Almost everything in life that’s good, is designed
At its core, design is defined as: Deliberate creation of an object or experience to fit a specific purpose or use. Let that sink in for a minute.
Design affects when we wake up, fall asleep, what we eat or drink, how we commute, communicate and go about our lives. It’s all around us. In essence, it’s the Matrix, without Laurence Fishburne in cool armless sunnies.
Some of the best design in modern life is almost invisible, or at least unnoticable. One of the oldest examples of design is writing. The creation of symbols that represent different vocalisations paved the way for the recording of information and knowledge, setting humankind on the path to enlightenment. Every human achievement in the last 5,000 years couldn’t have happened without this innovatively crafted, easily reproduced set of shapes and lines. The skill of typography is, I think, one of the most underrated disciplines in the design world.
Leaping forward to more modern times, another great example of efficient design is transportation networks. The intelligent planning and design of road and rail networks allowed for the industrial revolution to come about, encouraging centralised production and specialisation. The success or failure of any national economy is largely tied to the ability to move people and cargo from place to place in an efficient manner.
One of the most incredible design successes of the 20th and 21st centuries is often overlooked: information architecture. Telegraph and power networks, computer hardware and software, the internet, cloud computing, mobile phones, the list goes on. Each one carefully designed and redesigned, tweaked and crafted to fit a very specific use.
Design for life
Whether we like it or not, design forms an integral part of our lives. Not only that, we expect it in everything we do, have and use. Would an iPhone be worthy of the name smartphone if it was the size and shape of a Rubik’s cube?