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Definition of design

“One could describe Design as a plan for arranging elements to accomplish a particular purpose.” – Charles Eames

A few days ago, I heard Christopher Simmons addressing this quote on Debbie Millman's podcast, Design Matters. I really loved what he had to say about it. He broke it down into five components, which explain Eames's definition of design:

  • plan = strategy
  • arrangement = formalism
  • elements = content
  • accomplishment = how effective the design is
  • purpose = how worthwhile is the goal?

He believes this defines design, with one annotation: the act of creation, of making. And if all 5 of the above components are met, then it can be considered "good" design. If the designer invents something new, or adds their passion to the work in some way that can move the field of design forward, then it moves from good to great design.