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‘Design is design is not design’

My post on Un-named Design got an enthusiastic reply about the quote, which has so many ways of interpretation, and that made me recall another one of the quotes on design by writer and educator John Heskett, he wittily pins down the various ways in which the word ‘design’ is used in his quote,

Design is to design a design to produce a design[1] 

The Design process is hard to define as ‘design’ is both a noun and a verb. There have been various definitions but no consensus on a definitive formula as to what constitutes a design process. There is also the application of the word design to goods, such as ‘designer jeans’ or to processes which have little creativity involved such as ‘Bathroom Design’, which is about choosing ready-made objects. Design methodology would like us to believe that the design process can be organised into various steps, and with iterations and revisions, a solution can be arrived at. ‘Organising is a preparatory and retrospective process, not a generative one.[2]’  Organising is a useful tool for consolidating information that has already proven to work, such as research on appropriate materials to use, any previous experiments done etc. In addition to this, organising does not function well for creating new ideas. In order to generate new ideas, one needs to take a leap of faith, so to speak, into the imaginative and intuitive; that which does not yet exist.

[1] John Heskett, Design: A Very Short Introduction, (Oxford:OxfordUniversity Press, 2002)

[2] Tim Parsons, ‘Introduction’ in Thinking: Objects, Contemporary approaches to product design. (Switzerland: AVA Publishing, 2009) pg 152



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