Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Simple Act of Defining Design

A friend of mine asked me to post some design principles. Before even doing so, i believe we have to establish what exactly design IS.

In the context of commercial print or media, my concise definition of design would be:

the arrangement of elements, images, type, and / or colour into an original piece.

(apologies to Shepard Fairey for that "original" part)

Now, this is simply a definition of design.

Within the confines of this definition (if there are confines), there are certainly many designers in this world because there are many people who can in-fact move elements about on a virtual page.

However, this definition does not involve the QUALITY of design.

So, i offer this paraphrase of a quote of a quote (my memory > Paul Rand > John Dewey):

A designer (or artist) is one who has a particular sensitivity to the quality of things.

I would alter this definition just slightly - a GOOD designer is one who has this sensitivity.

This is what distinguishes good designers / designs from bad ones. Elements, images and type can all be arranged, but a good design is one in which they are arranged WELL.

What is "well"? Hmm. To quote Justice Potter Stewart, "I know it when i see it."

We shall discuss relativity vs. absolute truth in art later.

We cannot have one single litmus test - one quality that qualifies above all else.

So, at a later date, we shall look at some variegated qualities of GOOD design.