Design is easy if you know how to do it, Bruno Munari used to say.
Too often, I hear somebody talking to me about design as something strictly related to the visual appearance of things. While color, texture, shape, form, volume, configuration, layout, typography, and many other visual qualities are a matter of design, we should clarify that we are talking about Visual Design or Graphic Design.
There’s a more comprehensive, high-level, and maybe even purist definition of design that we need to consider: design is a process to build something. Design aims to be systematic and systemic in putting something in the world that can solve a problem or mitigate it.
Isn’t an illustration or a book layout a design problem? Of course, it is! But it is a part of a bigger problem, called: communication. Some designers argue that beauty is a vital part of design and that it should be the first goal of a designer to create something beautiful.
Beauty is beautiful, but it is not enough. We want to build things that are useful, meaningful, efficient, effective, and, also, pleasurable. Why not including “beauty” in something being pleasurable along with being nice to touch, or to hear, or to use?
That is why design should not be improvised. There are steps in the design process involving creativity, imagination, fantasy, diverging with our creative minds to visualize parts of the problem, and possible ways to solve it. But it’s just a part of it.
While art exists to raise questions and create problems, design, in its purest form, should live to find answers (or better questions) and to solve problems (or find better ones).
If you don’t want to reinvent the Universe from scratch and waste your life doing the same errors and discoveries that others already did, study, research, and adapt the best design process for the context of the problem you want to solve. And design solutions that are effective, efficient, and pleasurable.