Opinion: Design isn’t Horse Sh*t. People are Dumb sh*ts.

I had written this on my personal blog, but felt it belonged here. The art and design world isn’t always full of fluff. Now while most of it is, it is important that we as designers remember just exactly what design is and the great (or horrible) things it can accomplish.

In a very direct response to: http://yongfook.com/post/14295124427/design-is-horseshit

Which was a response to: http://designerfund.com/infographic

I saw this in my twitter stream at work. I immediately took casual offense. Design is horseshit? How dare he insult my livelihood?! After getting over my gut reaction I read the entire article. Twice.

In terms of your article. I completely agree with you 100%. However, what you’re talking about is not, and I repeat, is not design, well, not entirely. What you’re referring to as design is actually a very narrow view of what “design” actually is. What or rather “who” you’re describing is a stereotypical view of what the modern “designer” is, not what design is. You are clearly talking about a type of person that exists. And I admit that the type of apple loving-turtle neck wearing-fake black rimmed glasses-designer you’re mentioning ruins the entire field for the rest of us, but regardless that does not diminish the value of design.

So let’s talk about your points one by one and establish that it’s not design that is horseshit but a certain type of person.

1. Value creation – Design does not only enhance value. You are clearly referring to superficial design which is how something ‘looks’ not how something ‘functions’. As a designer I focus primarily on functions and systems. Design is not limited to graphics. Software programmers, Engineers are by nature designers. They seek to design & develop systems to solve problems. Right here it is important that the system or product is DESIGNED with ethical standards and realistic goals to solve a problem. Ideally good design creates value. You’re referring to superficial design which yes, does also enhance value. But, how the system or product is designed from the get-go matters more than what you’re referring.

2. Designers Tweet & Blog – Again you are referring to a specific type of person. Let’s call him/her the Apple Asshole. The stupid fuck who has to let everyone know what business card they’re working on or poster their making for some shitty band. While this person exists in large numbers, they do not speak for the entire design community. I hear plenty of talk from other designers & strategists about sales, business development & ops. It all depends on who you choose to listen to. I agree, however, that a large part of the conversation on twitter is about startups. This might be due to the fact that those of us with full time jobs as designers aren’t wasting our time talking about what we do. We’re fucking doing it. They could take a lesson from us.

3. Design is a cheap way to appear you’re creating value. – Yes & No. Design can be used this way. You’re right. I can use a hammer to build a house or to knock someone’s face in. It’s no different. To this point, you’re once again talking about superficial & visual design. You completely ignore the fact that a good design uses a methodology & process to create awesome solutions to some of the world’s shitiest problems. I.E. design for the other 90% of humanity. You’re referring to design only relevant to the 10%. Example: I went to Parsons School of design. A classmate, for her thesis designed a solution to help families in Colombia spread their stories from one village to another via a special device inside a lunchbox like case. These families were victims of the drug cartel violence that is rampant in the area. These stories were then transported to shitty broadcast radio channels and spread throughout the country to find help for these poor and abused individuals . She was a designer. She created value. That’s what good design is.

4. Everyone’s a fucking designer. Hardly. If someone who calls themselves a designer is only able to talk about the look & feel of something, smack them in the face. They’re not a designer. If they ask you legitimate questions about your process, methodology & goals for whatever it is you made/are making, give them a pat on the back. They’re a designer, a good designer will always be asking the right questions. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries  is a great book, and I highly recommend it to anyone and have even gone so far as to force my friends to read it at gun point.

Finally I want to talk about this:
“Some final words on this. Some people have interpreted this as me not understanding the value of good design. I assure you I do from experience, tweet at me if you want specifics.”

No. I’m not sure that you understand what “design” is. You separate it completely from a value creating process. If I wanted to solve a problem in a 3rd world country, I would design a realistic solution to a complicated problem. This might come off as one giant rambling, but I firmly believe you have to accept that design is integral to value creation because creating something that functions is part of design. You have to design products, systems, and interactions so that they bring value. All that horseshit you’re talking about is only relevant after something is created.

Design starts from the moment an idea hits paper. Not just when you’re trying to sell it.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are soley those of Fred McCoy. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of CreativeFluff Magazine the CreativeFluff staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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Fred McCoy

Fred McCoy

I live in the now, darlings. I live in a permanent #selfie. I stare only outwards, because I am a man of outwards thoughts. Twitter / Google+ / Pinterest

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