Changing the Meaning of “Design”

Why do we associate the word “Design” with artistic endeavors, perhaps with overtones of impracticality and frivolousness? Anyone who is curious about Design soon realizes that the most important factor in the design of an object, interface, or visualization is not the aesthetic appeal, but the usefulness of the item. Design is about creating solutions to problems in a way that meshes utility, robustness, and beauty. What is it about our society that gets distracted by the beauty and forgets everything else?


Everything we use in our life was designed by someone. This is a fact that is easy to forget when objects and tools are working well, but it is something that makes us wonder when they work badly–how could someone possibly create an item to work like this? What was the designer thinking?! Just as there are “bad” politicians, lawyers, doctors, and engineers, is it clear that there are bad designers. But when a tool fails us, the consequences are often greater than we would suspect.

Things like furniture, office tools, and technology have magnified negative effects on our physical selves if they are designed poorly. A badly-designed computer mouse could easily give people wrist and arm injuries. A badly-designed chair can give someone a back injury that will take years to change.

And yet, if bad design has such great consequences, why don’t we value design more? It seems that, with the rise of the internet and the emergence of a vast global economy, we are now beginning to change our attitude towards Design. The market will speak to us, and those objects which have the greatest utility and beauty will sell better than those that do not. Hopefully this cycle can continue as good design is perpetuated and bad design is relegated to the clearance bin.


Hey! I'm a 19-year-old student at Tufts University where I am majoring in Math. I'm from Upstate New York and was the only Hindu in my small-town public school. I love artichokes and eyeliner and lifehacking. I have a ton of interests, but most of them fall under the umbrellas of Education/Learning, Media/Entertainment, Mathematics, Design, or Technology. I have been inseparable from my laptop(s) since I was a xanga-layout-making, neopoint-hoarding 12-year-old.

Posted in Design

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