How Do You Define Design?

Toward the end of my design fundamentals course I generally ask my students how they, having gone through the process of learning design principles and applying them to a variety of projects, would define design. Here are the responses from several who recently completed the course:

Design is the process of externalizing many possible solutions to a problem and making choices regarding which solutions are likely to be most appropriate to the future contexts of the problem -Matthew T.

[Design is] the creation, invention or materialization of an idea or thought into a visual and/or tactile and/or audial presence to be shared with others, either for an end-goal like persuading into action or thought-provocation or for pure enjoyment (which sometimes still leads to the aforementioned end-goals). –Erika R.

If I was giving a talk about design I would probably define it as a way of communication. The planning and execution of a project that says what I am trying to say and has a start to finish. –Amy M.

Design is a visual or graphic means to communicate an idea or message, toward a particular goal or outcome. While there is a very critical aesthetic element to design, the function has to be considered first and foremost. I have to first ask (and really take into consideration) very practical and fundamental questions, like who is the target audience and what is the purpose. Otherwise, if I always designed based on my own personal taste or preference, all my designs would probably come out with a very similar style and they wouldn’t as effectively convey the idea or message or achieve the desired goal. -Naomi B.

Design is the creative and artistic solution to an overall problem or goal through the means of texts and graphics. –Kathryn V.

How do you define design?

Alvalyn Lundgren

Alvalyn Lundgren is the founder and principal of Alvalyn Creative, an independent consultancy providing brand strategy design and bespoke illustration for more than 30 years. She is the creator of Freelance Road Trip — a business school and podcast for creative freelancers. She teaches design and design practice on the college level with design schools and programs.