Thursday, June 14, 2007

Design is Not Art, Redux

Explaining design vs. art ...

"Leeanne Lowe pushes back hard on my claim that “design is not art”, one of the five principles I design by. She says:

“I have often thought that people who say ‘design is not art’ have no real idea what design is. If a designer were to say it to me I would seriously have to say that this person is not a designer at all, simply someone who is concerned with production and sees what they do as a job.”

Well, I don’t view design as production and only as a job that I do (although it’s part of it). I view it as a tool to solve a problem…a communication problem in many cases on the Web but also physical problems, like sitting down.

Leeann emphasizes the overlap between design and art:

“Designers produce ideas. Then turn those ideas into visual communications. Art is also about ideas, and those ideas are also (mostly) turned into visual communications. The only difference being that artists do it to meet their personal needs and designers do it to meet the needs of others.”

Saying designers produce ideas and turn them into visual communications sounds good to me…interface and visual designers do that. But when that visual communication is good, when any design is good…then some action happens. The design becomes useful…the person uses the design.

In the least actionable scenario, when we’re talking about long-term branding, a visual designer creates something that a viewer notices but probably doesn’t act on immediately. Maybe they see a logo several times (I’ve heard its 70 times to really stick) and are more likely to purchase or remember that logo when purchasing in the future. But if that action never happens, if the logo doesn’t work…then the design can said to have failed.

But when art is good…there is no use at the end of it. It’s all appreciation…a feeling of acknowledgment.

That’s a big difference between design and art. We can measure the results of design because it’s meant to solve a problem. We can see if the problem has been resolved or lessened in some way. With Art we can’t do that…other than some subjective “Do you like it?”."    (Continued via Bokardo)    [Usability Resources]


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