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Design is simple!


The new generations of designers or design students must find the discipline of Design complex and confusing. Indeed it is complex, but should not become confused.

Terms used as sustainable design, green design, universal design, inclusive design, holistic  design, don´t help this understanding neither.

But Design is simple, this apparent complexity may be due to the differents interpretations  of the profession and the many historical definitions of Design.

A great definition is one that states that the purview of the designer is the interface, this space where signs and objects, systems, services, information-action interact with the user.

Because it can be  applied to different areas and scales and especially as new areas of interaction design, and design collaborating with different disciplines,, creating a modern and flexible definition beyond the traditional form and function.

This can lead to confusion, the young and inexperienced, who claim that only wanted to be just designers.

Design has always been inclusive, sustainable, but maybe lately,  with a commercial approach together with a strong aesthetic concern, leading to forgetfulness or disregard of other vital aspects such as an accessible design for all or a design with ecological concerns.

The good design always was and will be universal, sustainable, or strategic,  therefore is incorrect to claim that only now can and should be strategic, inclusive or sustainable.

A simple analogy is to compare the design to the car, the car has always had wheels, motor and battery, without  it does not work or is not a car as such.. Claiming now that a x car is much better  because it has four wheels, or engine, is somewhat incoherent.

But the same happens with the design when the market claims that their design is more strategic, sustainable, universal, and it’s also something incoherent. It  was always strategic, universal, sustainable and will not fail to be.

Tagging the design with this or that  it helps diversify the discipline to gain greater visibility and understanding among the nondesigners, or the business world, of course, the design is now at its  high level and finally more  visible by the idea of ??sustainable design, green design, eco design  that is present in the media almost daily.

These terms help the design the penetrate souls and minds of everyone, but also leading to the misunderstanding that design is just sustainable or affordable and not for anything else.

The design is a powerful agent of change, capable of breaking paradigm, generate  innovation at different levels,, which should now be urgently and properly valued as such, specially in the developing countries such as India, Brazil.

As this article was written for a Brazilian audience, I stated that it is more than clear that without design and an intelligent and visionary national policy on science and technology, Brazil has no future, despite the fantastic football, carnival.

But football and carnival is not design, nor science, nor technology, nor engineering, nor lead Brazil to a brilliant scientific future of great design innovations.

As recommended by Bonsiepe, new generations of designers should read more, and from this reading build a more substantial and strong discipline  discourse, and only then, design will be in the right place.


This article is originally published in on Design Simples

About the author: Marcio Dupont is an industrial designer and sustainability analist( design and consumption). Visit his blog or contact him through his LinkedIn profile


{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Ally Le Sueur April 11, 2012, 11:41 pm

    Great article Marcio. I agree, good design brings about change – it constantly looks to improve and redefine.

  • Sean Herman April 12, 2012, 11:21 am

    Good article.

    It’s kind of funny that people (in general) make a big fuss over ‘green, sustainable’ design, like mentioned above. Rather than reiterating the same buzz words over and over, how about we focus more on iconic design (eg.), and strictly making a good product, separating ourselves apart from the competitor? Imagine that. 🙂

  • Jassy May 3, 2012, 4:36 pm

    I like it,Good!

  • Roberto Briceno July 18, 2012, 5:36 am

    Thanks, one of the best lectures about sustainable design i have read so far.
    Sustainability is, (or should be), an intrinsic aspect of good design, good design , in theory at least, should be sustainable, universal, strategic and this is something that sometimes passes unnoticed in lots of study programs. I agree with you with the fact that designers should read more this days when software claims to make everything easy and automatically, the most of the cases this led you to a design reality that is more concentrated on the form and less in the function or the social impact. That’s also because not everyone that knows how to make great looking forms with software are not necessarily trying to make something usefull but just something beautiful for the eye, and when you sum all this with all new manufacturing technologies the mix could be dangerous (as we are seeing in this times).

  • gongli December 23, 2012, 10:21 pm

    It is a good lesson for me. As a fresh who know a little definitions about good design,good design,should be sustinable ,universal,stategic as the article mentioned above.Actually sometimes I feel confused about design,maybe one day I will understand it more .

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