Kedron Rhodes Thoughts on Design, Innovation & Leadership

The Difference Between Art and Design

I have to bite my tongue when I hear art being talked about as if it were design, and when design is being discussed as if it's art. The words and meaning are not interchangeable.

art
The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture.
design
a specification of an object, manifested by an agent, intended to accomplish goals, in a particular environment, using a set of primitive components, satisfying a set of requirements, subject to constraints.

I love how legendary designer, Charles Eames, put it in "Design Q & A"

Q: What is your definition of ‘Design,’ Monsieur Eames?
A: One could describe Design as a plan for arranging elements to accomplish a particular purpose.
Q: Is Design an expression of art?
A: I would rather say it’s an expression of purpose. It may, if it is good enough, later be judged as art.

Art and design have a lot in common, which causes confusion differentiating the two. Both art and design revolve around the tangible, aesthetic, taste, craft, constraints, inspiration and vision (to name a few). Where they differ is around purpose and utility.

Some would argue that good design is invisible; it solves the problem before you feel the pain. Art, on the other hand, demands a response.

If you have not seen "Design Q & A with Charles Eames", then you are missing truly insightful work. Spare 5 minutes and watch this.

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