Thoughts on [Goal-Directed Product and Service Design]

Design vs Art

Definition of Design by Kim Goodwin (For the context of his book):

… is the craft of visualising concrete solutions that serve human needs and goals within certain constraints.

Kim mentions how buildings, software, electronics and ads are tangible solutions which provide a specific sort of experience. Kim emphasises on the visualisation aspect of being a designer as technical skills are not always as important. To Kim, the construction of the design is a separate task, like how architects do not partake in the physical construction but in providing precise instructions.

Kim’s definition of design raised a couple of questions about how I saw myself as a designer:
1. Do I still consider myself a designer?
2. Or am I the architect and the builder? Artist = Designer + Builder?
3. Do my designs necessarily serve the needs and goals of humans?

Design is a craft because it is neither design nor art, but somewhere in between.

While design is informed by scientific learning about human senses, cognition and ergonomics, art is about creating and expressing the inner vision of the artist. If that is the case, then would not all the designs of products and services be the same? On the contrary, there are so many iteration and interpretation of problems that give us countless variations of products and services.

Design is not about expressing the designer’s point of view…

As Kim was differentiating artist and designer, I was still on the fence about how art and design are heavily intertwined and not as clear cut. So if a designer has their own interpretation of a problem that invites a unique innovation, are they still considered designers or artist? Everyone has different perspective of the world around them so maybe while I may be a designer in this part of the hemisphere, I could be an artist elsewhere?

In order for design to be design and not art, it must serve human needs and goals… in an efficient, safe, and enjoyable way.

Kim’s inclusion of ‘enjoyable’ also raised some questions, for e.g.:
1. Why must good design be enjoyable?
2. What does ‘enjoyable’ encompass?
3. Does it simply mean it does not cause discomfort or is difficult to use? Or does it have to invoke some sort of emotion like joy, excitement, relaxation etc.
4. So why can’t art also provide solutions and be enjoyable too?

Art has many definitions and also different aspects. Kim’s loose definition of art made me re-evaluate the things I referred to as ‘art’ or ‘good design’. Why can’t art be good design or vice-versa? And what was the point Kim was trying to make when defining design and art?

Experience Design

Some people refer to human-centred products and service design as experience design, but I would argue that this term is presumptuous…

Kim mentions how since each consumer/participant/audience brings their own attitudes, behaviours, and perceptions to any situation, no designer can determine what experience the person has. Kim prefers to call it Product and Service Design. So was this paragraph just meant to express his point of view of the term ‘experience’ design? Again, Kim has made me question my own identity as an experience designer.  Similarly to product and service design, we can’t assume that all consumers/user will have the same experience.

Should I still identify as a Experience Designer? Or an Experience Artist?

Product and Service Design would involve a combination of Interaction Design, Graphic Design, Information Design and Industrial Design. Kim then proceeds to define interaction and its focus on what people want to do as well as how they can best accomplish it.

1. Can we ever know what people want to do?
2. What is then the ‘best’ way to accomplish something? Fast, fun, easy, either all or neither?

The first half of Chapter 1 was honestly a little disorienting.

Goal-Directed Design

While I found the method of goal-directed design very systematic and insightful, its approach seems to be more for the commercial industry. I would like to see how this method of organisation and process and help me as a designer and/or artist.


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