A Note on Design

interior computer generated architectural modelAt its most basic, design is the connected development of forms, materials, and structure in a coordinated whole which provides an appropriate level of complexity and connectivity to fulfill the requirements of the client.

The practice of design is an abstract and somewhat difficult activity to define.  It is the work which brings together all of the other activities a design firm performs.  Although hard to pin down, and variable from project to project, design does consist of a number of describable activities and goals.  These concrete aspects are described in our “Design Process Guide” under the Resources Menu.  This note is a short look into the conceptual basis of design work and its operation.

Design is creative work done in tandem with finding solutions to the practical aspects of a project.  It involves ongoing analysis, research and client input.  It operates through a re-iterative series of steps in which it both repeats itself and advances towards its goal.  Design requires substantial thought, abstraction, material experimentation, and evaluation.

Regardless of its specific methods, design work is goal oriented; it aims to produce an intended product.  While this constrains its operations, it is also where its open-ended and ephemeral character rests.  Its creative aspect is compelled by the fact that, especially at the start, the product it intends is a fiction of some kind.  This fiction is not a real goal, but rather is something that must be invented within the process itself.  The process is driven by what it uncovers through its own operations.  As such, design can be described as a directed action which aims at constantly moving goal posts.  As the work increasingly settles into a defined form, those goal posts are gradually made to stand still.

Sometimes this process proceeds easily as if it were pre-scripted.  More often, it periodically involves the client and design team in challenges requiring unforeseen effort and time.  This kind of tangential effort is within normal best practices, and together with its integration into the whole, often yields some of the best results.  It is very important to understand that the operation of design inherently involves considerable re-evaluation, adjustment, and re-design.