A Primer on Design

A Primer on Design

de·sign (dəˈzīn) – noun

a plan for the look, function, or workings of a building, garment, or other object before it is built or made.

There are really just two types of ‘design’

One one hand is nature and other is man-made.







The greater designer is nature.  Designs in nature are complex, timeless, perfect, and intrinsically beautiful.  For example, a tree is always aesthetic in it’s own right.  Since I am not a biologist, I can’t explain the types of design that drive nature.  But I do know that nature (and specifically food sources) has been a mainstay of inspiration for artists and designers ever since the cave-painters first captured their art in places like Pettakere Cave.

The other type of design is manmade.  Man-made design is relatively temporary, simple, and almost always humanity-centric. However, the one element that manmade design has on nature is novelty.  And since we spend most of our time surrounded by manufactured products, we have a constant need for new designs.

Under manmade designs, there are several specialized fields that one might consider.

The 4 General [Manmade] Design Tropes

Media, Graphic, and User Interface Design

Visual designs help us to interpret the world around us.  Where a message is being communicated one-way, we get advertising, media, type-faces, and other tropes that help us articulate tropes of emotions through shapes, simples, and words.  Where the communication is two-way (between the designer and the viewer), we have user interfaces like applications, web pages, kiosks, and the like.

Fashion Design

Our natural state is not very resilient on it’s own out of doors, so we invented clothing a long time ago to help us survive in different climates and weather conditions.  Since textiles are ubiquitous, we’ve used design to help differentiate our personal identity from one context to the next.  Fashion and accessories is the union of our personal identity with the environment we are in.

Product Design

Products are tools that extend or body’s capabilities.  For example, automotive design and shoe design helps us to walk further in a sense.  Everything that is manufactured can be considered a product.  As you look around your room, it becomes easy to tell where design has played an active or passive role in a product’s production.

Architectural and Interior Design

In certain cases, we have gotten to the point where we can design the space around us and simulate our own version of nature. Buildings and spaces specialize to serve specific purposes, whether they be for our private retreat, business operation, or point of social interaction.

Growing Diversity

I do not assume that the categories above are comprehensive, but are a good start to understanding types of manmade design.  The kicker is that as designers continue to specialize and explore the frontier of “novelty” the resulting complexity of our design ironically mirrors the complexity of nature.  After all, we are a product of nature’s design as well.

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