Design is used both as a noun and a verb. The term is often tied to the various applied arts and engineering (See design disciplines below). As a verb, "to design" refers to the process of originating and developing a plan for a product, structure, system, or component with intention. As a noun, "a design" is used for either the final (solution) plan (e.g. proposal, drawing, model, description) or the result of implementing that plan in the form of the final product of a design process. This classification aside, in its broadest sense no other limitations exist and the final product can be anything from socks and jewellery to graphical user interfaces and charts. Even virtual concepts such as corporate identity and cultural traditions such as celebration of certain holidays are sometimes designed. More recently, processes (in general) have also been treated as products of design, giving new meaning to the term "process design".
The person designing is called a designer, which is also a term used for people who work professionally in one of the various design areas, usually also specifying which area is being dealt with (such as a fashion designer, concept designer or web designer). Designing often requires a designer to consider the aesthetic, functional, and many other aspects of an object or a process, which usually requires considerable research, thought, modeling, interactive adjustment, and re-design.
Being defined so broadly, there is no universal language or unifying institution for designers of all disciplines. This allows for many differing philosophies and approaches toward the subject. However, serious study of design demands increased focus on the design process.
For such an important concept, the question "What is Design?" appears to yield answers with limited usefulness. Dino Dini states that the design process can be defined as "The management of constraints". He identifies two kinds of constraint, negotiable and non-negotiable. The first step in the design process is the identification, classification and selection of constraints. The process of design then proceeds from here by manipulating design variables so as to satisfy the non-negotiable constraints and optimizing those which are negotiable. It is possible for a set of non-negotiable constraints to be in conflict resulting in a design with no solution; in this case the non-negotiable constraints must be revised. For example, take the design of a chair. A chair must support a certain weight to be useful, and this is a non-negotiable constraint. The cost of producing the chair might be another. The choice of materials and the aesthetic qualities of the chair might be negotiable.
Dino Dini theorizes that poor designs occur as a result of mismanaged constraints, something he claims can be seen in the way the video game industry makes "Must be Fun" a negotiable constraint where he believes it should be non-negotiable.
It should be noted that "the management of constraints" may not include the whole of what is involved in "constraint management" as defined in the context of a broader Theory of Constraints, depending on the scope of a design or a designer's position.
Redesign Something that is redesigned requires a different process than something that is designed for the first time. A redesign often includes an evaluation of the existent design and the findings of the redesign needs are often the ones that drive the redesign process.
Typical stages of the design process include:
A design approach is a general philosophy that may or may not include a guide for specific methods. Some are to guide the overall goal of the design. Other approaches are to guide the tendencies of the designer. A combination of approaches may be used if they don't conflict.
Some popular approaches include:
Design Methods is a broad area that focuses on:
To study the purpose of designs, beyond individual goals (e.g. marketing, technology, education, entertainment, hobbies), is to question the controversial politics, morals, ethics and needs such as Maslow's hierarchy of needs. "Purpose" may also lead to existential questions such as religious morals and teleology. These philosophies for the "purpose of" designs are in contrast to philosophies for guiding design or methodology.
Often a designer (especially in commercial situations) is not in a position to define purpose. Whether a designer is, is not, or should be concerned with purpose or intended use beyond what they are expressly hired to influence, is debatable, depending on the situation. Not understanding or disinterest in the wider role of design in society might also be attributed to the commissioning agent or client, rather than the designer.
In structuration theory, achieving consensus and fulfillment of purpose is as continuous as society. Raised levels of achievement often lead to raised expectations. design is both medium and outcome generating a Janus like face, with every ending marking a new beginning.
In the realm of the arts, design is more relevant to the "applied" arts, such as architecture and industrial design. In fact today the term design is widely associated to modern industrial product design as initiated by Raymond Loewy and teachings at the Bauhaus and Ulm School of Design (HfG Ulm) in Germany during the 20th Century.
Design implies a conscious effort to create something that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. For example, a graphic artist may design an advertisement poster. This person's job is to communicate the advertisement message (functional aspect) and to make it look good (aesthetically pleasing). The distinction between pure and applied arts is not completely clear, but one may consider Jackson Pollock's (often criticized as "splatter") paintings as an example of pure art. One may assume his art does not convey a message based on the obvious differences between an advertisement poster and the mere possibility of an abstract message of a Jackson Pollock painting. One may speculate that Pollock, when painting, worked more intuitively than would a graphic artist, when consciously designing a poster. However, Mark Getlein suggests the principles of design are "almost instinctive", "built-in", "natural", and part of "our sense of 'rightness'. Pollock, as a trained artist, may have utilized design whether conscious or not.
Design and production are intertwined in many creative professional careers, meaning problem-solving is part of execution and the reverse. As the cost of rearrangement increases, the need for separating design from production increases as well. For example, a high-budget project, such as a skyscraper, requires separating (design) architecture from (production) construction. A Low-budget project, such as a locally printed office party invitation flyer, can be rearranged and printed dozens of times at the low cost of a few sheets of paper, a few drops of ink, and less than one hour's pay of a desktop publisher.
This is not to say that production never involves problem-solving or creativity, nor design always involves creativity. Designs are rarely perfect and are sometimes repetitive. The imperfection of a design may task a production position (e.g. production artist, construction worker) with utilizing creativity or problem-solving skills to compensate for what was overlooked in the design process. Likewise, a design may be a simple repetition (copy) of a known preexisting solution, requiring minimal, if any, creativity or problem-solving skills from the designer.
Scientific and mathematical
Design as intellectual property|
Impact of design
Designs for the future