Design Has Never Been More Important
As design tools become more democratized and decent design becomes more accessible to the masses, there is a pervading idea that good design will become commoditized, and will matter much less than it used to be when good design was rare, expensive, and took too much time to achieve.
I think the opposite.
I believe that the more abundant information, stories, ideas, identities, and products become, especially in the age of the internet, and then the age of mobile, and whichever next major platform wins next (AR, VR, even voice), that design, and form in particular—meaning the manifestation of its aesthetic—is only going to matter more, not less.
It will only become harder to differentiate in a sea of noise, to identify which things to trust, which things we might gravitate towards, which things will have our consistent loyalty and allegiance and place of belonging and sense of identity. There are more products today than ever before, whether tangible (consumer packaged goods) or intangible (news, entertainment, affiliations) and these things will only increase overtime as the market grows and expands to new fields we haven’t even thought of yet.
And the idea that design always takes a backseat of what the actual thing is seems rather backwards to me.
There is always form. It is not separate from a thing anymore than you can’t have an eagle without its aerodynamic and ravenous properties that allow it to be an eagle. For design’s sake, there is always some reason behind form whether intentionally or unintentionally (if something is printed in the default font of a word processor, there is still a reason for that). And I truly believe we’re inching towards a world where the form is no longer just an afterthought, something that has to be imagined or established after the conception of an idea, but rather, the very source of the idea, the foundation and core pillar of what something might be, and the very thing that separates that something with other things not just in perception but in overall experience, place, and purpose in people’s lives.
Design is often the last thing considered, but we will increasingly move into a world where design becomes the starting point, because it will become virtually impossible to divorce an idea from its form, and its form as the primary reason why something is needed, wanted, purchased, and bought into.
But wouldn’t strategy always come first exactly because it’s easier to create than a cohesive design? What I’m arguing here is that more and more these two things will not be so far apart—that there is no strategy without the idea of design, and the design of something becomes the very essence of a strategy.
Design will only become more important, not less. There has never been a better time to be a designer, to be a student of form, to be a champion of communication, to be a firebrand of culture, to be an author of invention, in the history of ever. Designers might be problem solvers, but more and more, designers are going to be makers and builders and creators, not just as mercenaries for hire to solve problems they don’t care about or perform commissions for institutions that only serve as a source of income, but the spark of new realities themselves, the ones who will make the future happen faster, those who will push new meaning into the world, because of their belief that something—including, especially, and because of its form—deserves to exist.