Word From The Nerd

Why you need design?


DESIGN RESULTS FROM human decisions. You can design with intention, which means you have a chance of doing it well, or you can let it happen, which means you’ll probably fail. Design happens whether you’re aware you’re doing it or not paying attention. Everything is designed. Things are either badly designed or well designed.



What do I mean by design?


Design is how we communicate what an object does, or its function, through its shape or form.

Take an oven mitten. Study it for a bit, and it becomes obvious that your hand goes inside. That's the form. The minute you have the oven mitts on, you understand it makes it easier to handle hot food on hot plates. That's the function.


Design is also the process we undertake to solve a problem. It hurts to take hot plates with your bare hand. A mitten is the solution to that problem. If you ask five designers to define design, you’ll get five different answers.


When you think about the design of a chair, you consider both how it looks and how it feels to sit on. A well-designed office chair corrects your posture and enhances your productivity, while a well-designed living room chair lets you lie back and relax, watch TV, play with your iPad, and take a nap.


If you and I were to design a chair together, we’d have to consider some factors from the beginning. Of course, we’d consider the seat’s size, the height from the ground, the angle of the back, the materials, and the fabric. Before we made any of those decisions, we’d ask ourselves about the chair’s goals. Who would be using the chair? What would they be doing? How would the chair benefit the person sitting in it? These answers affect how we communicate its function. When a person’s expectation of the chair matches their experience of sitting in the chair, they get more joy out of it. This is design done right.


Will those considerations ensure that the chair is well designed? No, but they certainly increase the odds. Not thinking about them ensures that our chair is badly designed.



What is design’s value?


Imagine two chair shops across the street from each other. One shop takes the chair’s design into consideration from the start. They hire the best chair designer they can. The chair designer researches other chairs on the market to figure out where they’re lacking. They ask people what they like and dislike about their current chairs, research materials, consider the chair company’s budget and profit margin, and source materials and manufacturing to make sure the chair is built right. They test different designs. They make adjustments. They test again. They come up with a solid design that meets both the company’s goals and people’s desires. The chair goes into production. It sells well. Everyone is now rich.


The people at the chair shop across the street also make chairs. They select adequate materials and make a seat, some legs, a back. This is definitely a chair! Then they hire a designer and say, “Make this a comfortable chair!” The designer adds a sad little foam rubber seat cushion. The chair does not sell. Everyone becomes miserable.


The value of good design is the increased possibility of success. We understand its importance in everyday objects like chairs, clothes, watches, coffee makers, and a good mattress. When it comes to interior design, we tend to think of design as a surface layer applied at the end to make things beautiful. In truth, interior design is much more than that. It can be intentional or happenstance. For design to be truly great, you need to build it into your projects from conception to completion.


People hire professionals because they can hold us accountable. When the users cannot understand how to make use of a curved wall for storage or how to deal with small spaces, you want to know you’ve got people trained in designing effective solutions that work well and will design based on a predicted outcome and not be playing guessing games.


Can I guarantee that hiring a professional designer will result in good design? No more than a University can guarantee that studying there will make you smarter. But it certainly improves your odds. Especially if you find the right fit.


Look for thoughtful, inventive problem solvers with excellent communication skills. Don’t get dazzled by the “beautiful decoration” trap. Treat your designers (and call them designers) as adult professionals. We are responsible for measurable job performance goals, the same as other employees.


Posted on 20 May 2022


Astley Ng,

The Designerd 


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