Art or Design?

As I have tried to understand my own journey though the profession, the steps that have bought me to this point in my work, I have developed a Venn diagram that includes “practical creativity” as one of the circles. This article by Bruce Moggeridge in the Washington Post quite nicely describes what I mean by practical creativity. How interesting that he uses the word “design”. It’s as if it was staring me right in the face and I couldn’t see it.

“One of the big differences between art and design is that art is mostly about commentary — it’s making a statement that you’re expecting other people to contemplate and be moved by, emotionally, or altered by, in terms of their perceptions.

“Whereas design is really about solving a problem that makes something more pragmatic, and useful, and valuable or valued, and of course you can add qualities of aesthetics to that, that make it also a delight. At the same time, if it fails on the functionality side, all is lost, whereas if it fails on the delight side, it might still fit into a lot of people’s lives in a satisfactory if not an exciting way.”

In addition to the aha moment, it’s also important to note that these revelations come when we are clear about our destination. When we have a goal in mind it is so much easier to filter the overwhelming volume of data we must deal with and select the parts that are useful. Without a focus, everything is important, and nothing is fully addressed and incorporated.

Another important point about the internet: I came across this really useful commentary via John McWade, publisher of Before and After. John himself had posted it based on a tip from yet another source. Through the power of with web you are reading this 4th hand, yet the source material is directly available to you. Amazing.

“One of the big differences between art and design is that art is mostly about commentary — it’s making a statement that you’re expecting other people to contemplate and be moved by, emotionally, or altered by, in terms of their perceptions.

“Whereas design is really about solving a problem that makes something more pragmatic, and useful, and valuable or valued, and of course you can add qualities of aesthetics to that, that make it also a delight. At the same time, if it fails on the functionality side, all is lost, whereas if it fails on the delight side, it might still fit into a lot of people’s lives in a satisfactory if not an exciting way.”