Designing versus Responding

28 Oct 2008 - 1:08pm
5 years ago
2 replies
234 reads
Jerome Ryckborst

Yesterday one of my colleagues said that, when solving a problem, the response IS the design. (That is, Response and Design are interchangeable synonyms.)

Really: Response = Design and Design = Response? Isn't it that Design _leads to_ the Response?

In my view, Design requires analysis and method. In some cases, it may _appear_ that Design = Response if an experienced practitioners very quickly solves a problem. [By comparison, an inexperienced designer who responds from the gut has not "designed" anything, in my view; they've merely responded.] Is it Design when an experienced designer applies a pattern -- a Response -- to another pattern -- a Problem -- to create a Response? Do you agree that Design requires deliberate, conscious analysis and the use of specific methods? When an experienced designer shortcuts those methods by using an experienced-based-pattern response, is that still design?


28 Oct 2008 - 1:36pm

Design is both the act of creation (verb); [THE] Design is a deliverable.

To use the word response seems like a misuse of the word. If one starts by
defining a problem/space, proceeds through various brainstorming/ideation
activities/and produces some artifact - that artifact could be THE design,
but it's not technically a response, unless you consider a defined problem
as a question and a design as a response to that question - is that your
colleague's meaning when he/she/it talks about response?

On Tue, Oct 28, 2008 at 2:27 PM, Jerome Ryckborst <
JRyckborst at> wrote:

> I see Design as a verb, and my colleague sees Design as a noun.
> So by "Response" I mean "the deliverable" – the thing that addresses the
> problem.
> -=- Jerome

28 Oct 2008 - 6:26pm
Jeff Howard

Hi Jerome,

Will's right. Design is both a noun and a verb. In the book
Toothpicks and Logos, John Heskett put it like this: "Design is to
design a design to produce a design."

The gut-based response you're talking about sounds to me like what
some would call "genius design," and what I call extemporaneous
design. I think it's still design even if it looks like you're
winging it. It's just based on past experience and internalized
process rather than an immediate, visible process.

What's dangerous about considering design as response is that it
suggests that the designer isn't evaluating the stimulus critically.
They're just pecking away at the food delivery button. It usually
helps to step back and ask whether you're solving the right problem.

// jeff

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