What isn’t design?

Recently I had a surprising conversation that had me defending the merits of design. I was competing against the assertion that design was nothing more than wrapping paper – a bow of all things. Then there was the oil change analogy, why should design be seen as more important than getting your car serviced? At this point, I’m going back on memory, so the exact details may have been slightly different. However the reality is that design is more then just the “thing you see”, the pretty picture, the bright colours, the flash and awe or that it is on the same level as an oil change. It would be easy to claim that design is about solving problems, but again it’s more than just that. I’ve asserted in the past that the execution of a design is a minor part of the process and the majority of the time of design is figuring out the intention of the action that you want to produce. There’s the idea of making visible what is not visible, creating form and making meaning where there once was none that I like to think design helps facilitate. Along the same line of design, where design is trying to save the world, I don’t think design can act alone. Through facilitation with other professionals, such as anthropologists, sociologists, psychiatrists, social workers, philosophers, tech people and others that observe and act, designers can be part of the solution for an optimistic and better world.

Design Observer had an unusual amount of good links that relate to some of the social design that is going on today. Below are three of those links.

Politics of the drawing board
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,6903,1651396,00.html

Putting people first
http://blog.vanderbeeken.com

Dott (Designs of the time)
www.dott07.com

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