Nature of Design

ORO Editions

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Scott Lockard
Oro Editions
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The Nature of Design focuses on the design theory and practice, and presents previously unseen drawings. Design is a widely-misunderstood discipline. This misunderstanding is not just simple ignorance and indifference in the layman. It is the design profession itself that accepts and promotes a vague and ultimately damaging definition of design. This lack of clarity is nurtured to thwart the scrutiny that would reveal designers' incompetence--as well as to advance more insidious agendas. While there is no lack of criticism, it too misses the point. Critics and designers are content to argue about superficial distinctions but not to understand the true criteria for evaluation, nor the process that would accomplish it. These willful misunderstandings are highly detrimental both to the client and to the development of capable designers. So we think we know what design is? We don't. Do designers know what design is? They don't either. Most are designers in the same way that design books are only about style, designers and designs. Design books are rarely, if ever, about design itself. Obvious as it is, if we are to develop as designers and to design as well as we can, we need to understand the nature of design. Design is not art. Design is not an art. Design is a discipline and a process. Professions, trades, styles, techniques and technologies all change over time. A discipline does not. The design process does not. The nature of design does not. Design responds to criteria, and its success can only be measured against those criteria. The criteria might come from anywhere, but they are not design criteria until the client says so. The client is the creator, and thus design is not an act of creation, but of translation and orchestration. Art might well be perfect, never admitting to compromise, but because of criteria, design is never ideal. The reconciliation of compromises is the central act of design. This is infinitely more difficult than and requires capabilities far beyond those required for simple self-expression. Thus many designers prefer to define the criteria for themselves, or to adopt the criteria of critics and other designers. This is not design. Misunderstandings and misrepresentations of the nature of design lead both to self-serving perversions of the process by designers, and more commonly to simply incompetent, inadequate and inefficient service to the client. Complicitous in and often benefiting from this confusion are critics and academics who have little experience and little stake in the satisfaction of client criteria.