What Design?

Everything Is Design

I fought the pressure to replace the word "design" with "work" or "creation" or even "system" in the context of this book. Because, on the one hand, everything is design.

As long as an object was made, created, fabricated, [insert the word], worked into being something of performance of any sort, it was a design. And is.

But on the other hand, I would be shooting myself in the foot if I were to apply to such an impossible undertaking - how to produce work and good work. How would I look at every "work", every profession or human endeavor under the sun and begin theorizing about it? That would be an endless volume of nitty-gritty. It would be foolhardy.

Design Is Broad Strokes

But that is what "design" really is and means. Hang with me a bit more here. Would this be an impossible task then - this book? No way! You see, design allows you to deal with just the "approach", the "thinking", the broad strokes, so to speak, of doing anything. As if you could nudge a worker and say "hey, why don't you apply some design thinking to that?" You get the idea? "It would make it work, look good, you know."

Then again, design almost always elicits the grasp of "make pretty", "make look good". And, it's like that's the only reason you have a design school as opposed to a medical school. Then a "designer" has to make a stethoscope for a medico. And the latter might insist on the former to "make it look good". But what's a stethoscope for?

Compass Every Work with Design

So, when I say "design", I do not mean "how to make" anything nor do I mean "how to make pretty" anything. Heck, nothing should be made pretty, just to appeal - more on that in the chapter on Pleasing. What I mean is the rather nuanced qualities that are inherent to any conception or fabrication that work satisfactorily, which nuances or facets (since they're not hidden from inspection) every one, every designer should use to compass their work.

What Good Design Is

Now if you made it through my soapbox, here is the skinny - design is how to make anything work satisfactorily. Therefore, good design is whatever works satisfactorily. And I'm not by "satisfy" necessarily referring to the sensory, but then you know if it does what it says it does, you'll be pleased with it, right? It will be good work. Good design.

Still I'm not teaching you how to make that work. Any work.

I'm teaching facets of such work that yours, whatever it may be, must embody in whole or in parts, depending on its relative complexity, to pass as good design. That is what Good Design Is - this book, its accompanying course, and the business built about both.

Hand-drawn graphic of the 17 facets of design that is Good Design Is