What is Design?

Design – so often unseen, at best misunderstood – and too often, undervalued. Where I come from, Design is perceived to be a wealth indicator – the more extravagant, the wealthier. It is also thought of as the simple task of colour and material matching and selection of furniture at whim. A no-brainer, anyone can do it. Misconstrued by many to be so, while at its core, it certainly was not what Design was born to do.

The Journey that takes you from A to B

The word ‘Design’ can be interpreted in many ways. It can express an action (to design), or it can refer to an object (that has been designed).

In the context of ‘action’, Design is a series of actions that takes you from A, to B.


It can be a Pretty Long Journey

It is everything that happens between A, the realization of a need (or idea), to B, the point where execution is complete and that initial need is resolved (or when an idea is realized).

In the context of Interior Design for homes, it is the process (a series of actions) that transforms how you are living right now, to how you actually need (or want) to live (better, obviously).

Before B can materialise though, Design, to do well, tends to be a pretty long journey which comprises (but is not limited to):

  1. A systematic and thorough analysis of requirements BOTH functional and later aesthetic which is then
  2. Expressed in documents consisting of visuals, corresponding written specifications and instructions as a result, upon completion which has to be
  3. Executed in concert by various trades to convert the solution on paper into reality

And the above – is only the ‘short’ version of what Design is.


Not a Simple Question of Colours or Materials

Aesthetics (what looks good*) depends on the end user’s preferences and are what is seen externally – colour, material and shapes. While also part of the process, and important – colour and material matching and furniture selection (to a certain extent) is actually secondary to functional requirements in the sense  that

It matters less what colour (aesthetic) a chair came in, as long as you can sit on it (function – it works!).

However since the colours, materials and shapes is the part of the Design process that provides immediate visual impact, for most, it becomes the only part of the long process that is remembered and hence, sadly, perceived to matter.

The key takeaway?

At its core, a Design must work. On the outside, it should look good*.

To understand the people who Design, head on to the next post: “Designer – Artist, or Engineer?

The writer is a Financial Analyst turned Interior Designer – Writer – Wanderer – Illustrator-in-a-Diaper – Lifelong Student sharing experiences along the path of a Design journey that yielded an ROI way beyond humanly possible forecasts.