How we define design forms the basis of both our theoretical and pragmatic expressions as designers. Without a clear understanding of what we mean by "design" we are apt to find ourselves the victims of arbitrary thoughts and styles, unconsciously mimicking the misrepresentations of aesthetics, form, and function advocated by others. Simply stated ...
Design is the thought process comprising
the creation of an entity.
While this definition of design is very powerful, it provides no ethic. In other words, by this definition of design we cannot tell whether the entities we are designing (be they objects, events, concepts, or relationships) are good or bad.
We need to understand the purpose of design in order to determine if what we are designing or evaluating is good or bad. It is interesting to note that the purpose of design is always the same, that is …
The purpose of design is to facilitate life.
If the entity facilitates life it is good, if it inhibits life it is bad, if it does neither it is neutral. This sounds simple until one asks the questions: "Whose life? Which species? Over what period of time?"
Answers to these questions provide the basis for the entity's performance requirements. The degree to which these questions are answered honestly, with clarity, and without favor leads to the quality of those requirements and, more importantly, to the quality of the entity itself.