Reading Response #1 
to Artful Design • Chapter 1: “Design Is ______”

Laura Schütz
Music 256A / CS476a, Stanford University

Design Begins With Intended Outcome?

I am responding to Principle 1.8 Design is Intentionality Exceeding Methodology. I would argue that the definition of design as an innovative endeavor that only comes up when we are planning to create something yet unknown is only applicable to some parts of design. The intention behind design can also be the repetition of known methodology, like the recreation of a meal that brings back certain memories and emotions. I believe that a big part of design and the design discipline is creating something known with a slight twist on it. Most inspiration in architecture for examples comes from familiar buildings and combinations of experienced spaces. Thus, design does not only happen when our intention overcomes the known, it also happens when we simply intend to pursue aesthetics and functionality regardless of new or old.

A sentence within that principle goes like this: “Design begins when we have an intended outcome without knowing how to achieve it.” I do not believe that design only happens when we have an intended outcome in mind. In a needs-based approaches to design, there is no intended outcome, but the process of identifying a need and working towards a solution for that need is also considered design. Another example is design for the sake of exploration and experimentation. A designer might simply want to experiment with a certain material or technology to see what is possible and if unexpected ideas arise. Thus, a focus on an intended outcome is not a given when designing.

Let me comment on the zipper pencil case as a metaphor for artful design. I understand that the case is playful and functional at the same time, but it is not aesthetic to me. So, the question really is, what is aesthetic? And that varies widely between individuals. A focus on pure functionality is thus easier to argue for and defend in a corporate setting and the likeliness of appeal to a broader customer base is higher. I agree that the absence of art in the act of design leaves us with dullness, but I would argue that the balance between functionality and aesthetics is a personal preference and that people exist on a spectrum of this field of tension. Some more likely to enjoy playful designs, others more likely to enjoy functional design. These preferences have always been present in the history of design. For example, modern architecture (focused on new industrial construction techniques) emerged almost at the same time as organic architecture (focused on designing in harmony with nature) and coexisted alongside each other for a few decades. To use the phrases of Principle 1.7: A purposeful versus humanistic orientation of design.