«Design is the intermediary between information and understanding.»
– Richard Grefé, Executive Director at the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA)
Why design matters?
Design is a source of innovation, inspiration, and transformation. At IE University, we have observed how a variety of areas of design impact the way we live, and how Lego, Netflix, Sonos, and Copenhagen, among others, have been disruptive. To learn more about these cases, click here.
What is design?
There are a variety of definitions for design. It has been defined as the process and the conceptualization of new objects that are understood as ideas, information, interactions, products, websites, platforms, among others; and as the link between creativity and innovation, which allows ideas to be shaped as valuable propositions for users and customers. Design is a discipline that can be applied to diverse areas to create specific experiences — it is a field that influences the digital landscape, products, processes, companies and more.
Design intends to reach certain goals, and it is defined as something essential to an object, however, it is not an object itself. Steve Jobs defines design as a discipline which is more than physical:
«Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.» – Steve Jobs
Thus, there is not a specific definition, but it is rather a discipline that encompasses a variety of factors and areas.
What is the role of the designer?
Designers are the creators of design — they should research, examine, think, imagine and create. They carry out the process and organize the elements of a design in order to execute the design, making their ideas into reality. A designer is a person who builds experiences and influences interactions; they are able to see the world as it is now, and to shape it for the future.
Design as a tool for change
Design is a powerful tool that allows us to disrupt a wide range of industries and improve user experiences. According to Todd Olson, editor of The Design Innovator, those who truly innovate are designers; they focus their attention on design innovation, rather than technological innovation. Design is a tool that allows us to create experiences with available technologies, and be the disruptors that form the future.
For example, the technology for creating animated films was patented in 1914, but it wasn’t until 1937 when Walt Disney created Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, that animated films gained popularity. The technology available had not been used to create this experience before; the innovation was in Walt Disney’s use of it.
Design allows us to connect existing technology with innovative experiences, and because of that, it is a powerful tool for change. By understanding human experiences, motivation and behavior, designers close the gap between technology and information, and an understanding of human behavior.