What is Design? (part 1 of many)

April 30, 2010 at 4:48 pm 3 comments

In honor of my 50th post in a blog about design ideas, I want to begin tackling what I consider to be “Design.” I expect that this will become part of an evolving series of posts, since the idea of design is a truly “changing concept.” One place to start is the question “What makes a design good?”

I firmly believe that design is a process that involves our “hands, heads, and hearts.” The strongest designs require significant input from all three. If you don’t use  your hands, you could miss a real world component of your design that your head couldn’t quite grasp (which is the big reason I support design/build systems). If you don’t use your head, then you haven’t really considered how your design will work with its users. And if you don’t use your heart, then your design is bound to lack joy or style or soul or all of the above (and maybe you should reconsider being a designer).

When designing, you sometimes don’t get it right at first. Working out problems, adapting, and revising are all part of what makes designs become great. GOOD posted an article along these lines that quoted Samuel Beckett: “All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Good designs, in my opinion, always need some failures to achieve the biggest successes.

Good design requires body, mind, heart, and a commitment to finding the best solution. According to D:Center Baltimore, “good design is, simply put, smart problem solving.” Which sums things up nicely for me (or, at least, it starts to).

April 30’s daily design idea is what makes a design good?


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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Public interest architecture. « Daily Design Idea  |  September 30, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    […] wondering why today is the occasion for this relatively momentous post. It’s not post number 50 or 100 (it’s just number 158), but it is going to preface a week of posts inspired by the […]

  • 2. Pragmatic optimism. « Daily Design Idea  |  February 21, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    […] daily design idea is be willing and prepared to try again, fail again, and fail better. Thank you (again) for the wise words, Samuel […]

  • 3. My design process (part 1 of many). « Daily Design Idea  |  April 18, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    […] and I decided that I wanted to use the blog to explore this in much the same way that I started defining design. And even though the job that I interviewed for wasn’t a classic design job, having a design […]


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