Côte d'Azul, France

Defining Design

A good design is like a mirage –illusive, rare, a thing of wonder; a treasured find. It can be experienced without our knowledge, barely recognized unless we are trained to see and understand it.

Sometimes we feel its comfort, its elegance, its simplicity. Sometimes we may even test its practicality and sense the intelligence of its lines and contours before we are aware of it.

Design is not unforeseen or an accident. It is both calculating and precise, the result of an intuitive and analytical mental process. It is conceived by function and aesthetics, materials and objective intent. It is an outcome of the imagination.

Design reveals not only the imaginings of how things will look, but also how we interact with them in the real world –a world experienced in three-dimensional space. Therefore, a good design does not react; it anticipates. When it is great, we barely notice it.

The lessons and ideals of design are rarely original. They are present in nature and have been around since mankind took its first steps. We can only learn of them through observation. Therefore, the greatest asset a designer has is not how to execute but how to see. And what we see, we must also feel in the most elemental way.

Thus, the task of design is not to recreate nature, but to let nature reveal itself to us. In the end, design is the means by which we experience the world, scrutinize its intentions, and make them our own.

For that reason, we must let the world shape us. We must allow the lessons of the world to inhabit our imaginations and transform our experiences into shape, form, and function.

Like the world we inhabit, design is never stagnant; it has always evolved into new and exciting forms. Old reliable products, fashion, industrial, interior, and graphic design has been augmented by relative newcomers like entertainment design, including games, movies, and animation, interface, web design, and toys. The opportunities for intelligence and elegance exist in all these categories. As far as design goes, the horizons are endless.

But how does one begin to see and understand design? And how do you go about defining the elements that make a design good? The answer to these questions is ‘observation’. You must walk into the world with your eyes wide open and learn from careful scrutiny.

This means developing the ability of not limiting yourself -you must be interested and open to anything and learning from everything. And finally, you must allow yourself to learn from other designers and your own experiences.