Here’s some news for web designers, interaction designers, graphic designers, information designers, user experience designers, and whatever else you might think of yourself as: New York Magazine defines “design” as “interior design”. And of course the fashion world uses the word “design” to mean “fashion design”.

I’d guess that if you asked a hundred people what a designer does, the most people would describe either a fashion designer or an interior designer.

There is no holistic all-encompassing capital-letter Design out there. Get over it.


12 responses to “Design = Interior Design”

  1. It’s true. Lots of people think of interior designer when I say “I’m a designer.”

  2. Design covers a lot of ground.Interior design/visual design/game design/textiles/military design?/photoshop/IT/identity design/architectural only…..they share something. What is it? ALICE crosses a lot of boundaries, & could serve as an interface. But…
    On a concrete level, I see students who face the challenge of rocketing into excellence in their field, …….or giving up.
    How can they stay inspired by their muse, while handling the sometimes suffocating bureaucracy and rigidness of academia? (Excuse my Lingua Franca)
    Come on back….

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  4. And if you said you were an Artist, they’d think you were a painter.

  5. And if you said you were a painter, they’d think you painted walls. Actually, I think that’s changed a lot over the last 20 years or so, but it’s still probably true in most places.

  6. I don’t have a problem with Design meaning many things. In Europe it’s mostly used to mean ID (whereas they say “graphics” to mean graphic design).

    The problem is that it seems like whenever the media covers “Design”, they’ll cover, fashion, interiors, industrial, architecture, but usually completely snub or just barely mention any graphic/information design fields.

    This type of snubbing is not new to New York Mag. In their May 2006 issue entitled “The Influentials” they had a whole section on design that included not one graphic designer.

  7. Chris: It’s a virtual certainly that most media design surveys, in addition to omitting graphic designers, will also omit interaction designers and web designers and anyone who designs anything interactive, too. Pretty amazing.

  8. There is a capital D design. It means solving problems.

    Beneath that are specialties. Interaction, graphic, interior, fashion, product, etc. design. And each of those has sub-specialties.

  9. J: I agree with you that there is a big-picture concept of design (capital D or not) that encompasses many other problem-solving disciplines. But my point is that many people — probably most people — have their own definition of design and one can’t assume another person’s definition is the same as one’s own definition. Even my own everyday idea of “capital-D Design” would not, for example, include the kind of design work that Karl Rove does when he plans out which districts in which to spend money, or the design work that a microchip manufacturer does to plan out the microstructures in a new CPU wafer.

  10. Chris: I think it’s a difference between design, the lower-case d verb, and Design the profession. Microchips and politics aren’t part of the Design profession, but they do involve the design verb.

    A new word might be handy, but what would it be? How do you sum up a job that involves understanding almost everything about how humans percieve and think, and how to create things that interface with and influence those humans? And at the same time, keep that word from being totally generic?

  11. J: Many of those other professions actually do use the word “design”, however, in their job titles (search for “design” on monster.com sometime).

    I’m not saying that you or anyone else are wrong for concieving of design as encompassing a limited set of visual, interactive, physical, and other narrowly-defined human experiential areas. I’m just saying that, in other circles, you need to be aware of the fact that we don’t own the word. And we never will. And that’s perfectly okay. We don’t need a new word — that’s what I love about the English language: the ambiguity reveals connections between seemingly unrelated fields. Maybe what integrated circuit designers do is similar to what we do.

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