Defining "Design"

Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose.

Charles Eames

I actually really love this definition. It’s honest and apolitical. Design can do harm without losing the definition of what design is, I think that gets lost in other definitions. This definition hits at what the action of design actually is without offering an opinion on what good or bad design might be while also leaving room for that kind of augmentation.

I would extend this to say good design is when the purpose is clearly defined and ultimately achieved (at least good in the sense of effective). To have morally good design, you then only need to define what your values dictate as “good” and I think that fluctuates from person to person.

The reason why so many people struggle with accurately defining their role is because the term “Designer” falls short. So much can be designed that it’s unreasonable to expect any individual to be capable of designing everything. But when the things you design don’t all neatly fit within a specific category, what do you then call that grouping?