Doing Design

“Doing design”, it is while reading the papers quite a common sentence. There is often referenced towards this, or sentences closely related. Especially in the “Design Fiction: A Method Toolbox for Design Research in a Complex World”, there are many remarks made about “Doing Design”.

“Engineering, medicine, business, architecture and painting are concerned not with the necessary but with the contingent – not with how things are but with how they might be – in short, with design“ (Simon, 1969, p. xii). Using this quote one could define the verb design as everything that has to do with “how things might be”. Everyone who is a designer is in some way busy with shaping the future. I think that this is a very limited view on design. What makes engineers or bankers different from designers?

“…While the world has heard many calls for social change, few have come from designers themselves…” [Margolin, 2007] This quote from Margolin adds an extra perspective to the role of designers. Apparently people expect designer to call for social change and preferably make it happen, leaving out the fact that the designer are letting the world down. I agree, designers are indeed tasked executing social change and indeed they are among one of the best equipped to think about social issues and the influences of design on those. But is the goal of every designer to make social change happen? Should the intention of everything we do be about social change for the better? I do not think so. As long as the design has positive influence on society, this is something different than having the intention beforehand.

Design in my opinion is not making products or services. Design for me is a way of thinking. Indeed Engineers and bankers can be designers, yet currently they are not. To generalize (and a bit biased), they analyze how to go from A to B as fast and cheap as possible by predefined theory and paying no mind to society. Designers (again generalizing) they use more trial and error, they pay mind to the influence (or at least they should). Designers iterate, they try things that have not been proven. Designers have a more free perspective on the way of how things should be done.

Designing is more than thinking, designing is a mindset. Daring to go where no one has gone before, a practice in which the journey is equally important as the result and the goal. Designing is about reflecting on the areas, seek for improvements and then try again and get a step further, it is iterative and reflective. Though I still not happy with my definition, as it is too wide and at the same time not capturing the design profession. I have come somewhat closer to a definition for myself


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