The Debate of Design and Equine Excrement

by Kevin Makice

One of the pre-Christmas ripples in the design world was a rant by yongfook that took issue with the trend toward emphasizing design in founding startups. Among the many responses, Joshua Porter’s take at Bokado included this observation:

For some reason, Yongfook wants to separate “value creation” from “design”. But that’s hard to do…as design is in part the process of discovering problems and then conceiving of solutions to them. The idea that a founder would go out and “create value” without actually designing something along the way doesn’t make much sense…in solving the problem they would end up designing something, even if it only be conceptual design of a proposed product.

This is not an uncommon problem for designers to face in their workplaces and when talking with biz types. Eli Blevis at Indiana University liked to depict design as two co-centric circles, one very big an the other very small. Most people who hear “design” believe it incorporates some amount of decoration (i.e., making pretty screens). The yongfook’s of the world see decoration as the big circle, though, with everything else crammed into the small one. Designers, however, know that decoration is the small circle, just one part of a skill set that supports the communication of a vision that changes the world for the better.

Bokado (December 17, 2011 by Joshua Porter)