What is design?

Updated: Nov 20, 2021

Today “Design” is a term that we are hearing over and over again; anything around us is the result of an idea, so it is designed. Easy Right? The term design indicates the activity promoted by the designer, which is the basis of the construction/realization of an object, be it material or conceptual.

It is precisely for this reason that everything around us is infused by design. I think you have all heard several times about fashion design, product design, graphic design, or interior design. I am always very fascinated by the fact that design brings together so many sectors such as fashion, architecture, art, landscape, digital world, to the more abstract ones such as sound, light, and the human mind.


Just think that there is sensory design and emotional design that deal with analyzing sensations or emotions. Interesting No? But let's go deeper!


Where does the design start from?


In my opinion, design is nothing more than a product of our intellect, born from a need. The process in response to this need is given by the manifestation of man's creativity. But what do the different types of designs have in common? I still remember a book I read when I was in university "Da cosa nasce cosa" by Bruno Munari. A very interesting book that is dedicated to the description and simplification of the fundamental operations of the design method. For this reason, I want to focus on this issue, to be able to help those who are "new" to better understand this vast world of possibilities.


There are different methods of design approach (Sidal's, Follon's, Archer's methods, etc.) that are united using logical "rules" based on experience, which can be useful to the designer to meet the needs of the consumer. But the most interesting thing for a designer is that is expressed by Munari is that we must not let ourselves be carried away by the enthusiasm of the first idea, but we will have to define the problem in front of us, dividing it into minor components (which represent the limits within which the designer will have to apply his creative and decisive intervention). It will then be useful to define the type of solution to be reached to respond to the need expressed by the consumer.


Before giving impetus to creative inspiration, however, Munari inserts the step of data analysis, and in particular of the identification of functions (physical component) and aspects (psychological component). As for the physical component, the designer will have to collect information and test the technical, technological, and economic components of what he wants to design, while from a psychological point of view he will have to search for the aspects most linked to culture and history that bind the product to the potential user.


Subsequently, there is the intervention of creativity. What is creativity according to Bruno Munari? It is a synthesis of inventiveness, that is, the ability to think about something that worked but did not previously exist.


Creativity is a synthesis of imaginative freedom and inventive accuracy (the latter due to the meticulous analysis of functions and aspects) and is, therefore, a "consequence of the right". The creative intervention is followed by a new collection of information regarding the materials and technologies available to the designer to develop his project: from the experiments on these components, it will be possible to identify the most appropriate solution samples both in technological terms and in economic terms to the design problems. Or rather, by analyzing every aspect of a possible project it is possible to arrive at a product or rather from “what comes what” (da cosa nasce cosa)!


Is design useful?


With this question, I want to introduce to you my favorite designer, Ilse Crawford. She is famous for having worked in Architects' Journal, Elle Decoration, Donna Karan, and then opening her design studio, StudioIlse.


She describes the figure of the interior designer as a fundamental figure when it comes to Interior. Being an interior designer is not just an aesthetic question, as many often think, but it is much more. If you think that we spend 87% of our lives inside buildings. The way we live affects our lives and our serenity.


Design, as Ilse says, is a cognitive process, it is knowledge, it is a tool to empower our humanity. It is necessary to fix the human experience at the base of the creative process because a space is not a place to be filled with things but this is a place that must be able to transmit sensations to the interlocutor. Ilse Crawford also writes a book "Sensual Home", in which he describes the world of the interior by our five senses. When we are in a space we are affected by the influence it has on us. The five senses allow us to connect with our subconscious and everything we see, hear, smell, touch, and taste, making us have an epiphany, in which an enlightening realization allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective.


The most important thing that this designer shows us is that man is linked to his feelings when he is inside space and how these are linked to his subconscious. Precisely for this reason, we can speak of Wellbeing.


Wellness-centric design involves lighting, materials, air and sound quality, biophilic design (which connects architecture and nature), and the integration of indoor and outdoor spaces. So the design has become a physical and mental experience that makes our daily life a unique encounter, thus making an ordinary thing into an extraordinary experience.


I think at this point he was able to fascinate you. Coming from interior design studios, I can tell you that as a designer, I have always been curious about other sectors. I have attended courses in product design, fashion design, and graphic design.


To date, having lived in New York for four years, I have come across different types of projects and very often find myself working on completely different things. I have created start-ups and collaborated on brand projects for dog clothes, creation of advertising campaigns, creation of product merchandising, Interior design projects, and projects in fashion design, websites, etc.


I think there is nothing more interesting than design. It is not just about creating something new but also being able to express one's vision of things and through design, enrich our lifestyle.




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