Art seeks to create beauty-truth that others find valuable for in its provocation and impact. Design seeks to create value-truth that others find beautiful in its effective utility.
The act of design aims to find the best fit between identified
problems and possible solutions within understood contexts. Inside that frame,
design should be artful in its completeness and detail. But true art -- purely
creative and beholden to no one -- may be almost never appropriate, possible,
or even desirable. Even what seems like a truly new, artistic, solution by
necessity must and will be broken down into visual and interactive concepts
that match to the human capabilities present in the context of the solution, many
of which remain relatively static over time. Thus the truly new is prevented
and novelty is relegated at most to surface level representations, which, if
used, often lead to confused offerings that are trying to appear new but
succeed only in covering yesterday’s ordinary object in a shiny facade. The
new then obfuscates meaning and use, defeating the entire purpose of creating a
solution in the first place.
This does not mean there is no place for decoration, fun, artistic
touches, and even whimsy, but they do not belong at the focal point of a
solution, where clarity, purpose, and satisfaction must reign supreme. Rather
than by artistic expression, these more important characteristics are produced
by design craft: the thoughtful, deliberate application of knowledgeable,
principled, and wise solving actions. This craft imbues the solution with a value derived
from usefulness and usableness primarily, though they can be enhanced by
desirability. Creating desire, though, is not the same as creating artistic attraction.
The audience and purposes served are entirely different. Success of a designed
object occurs coincident with a satisfaction enabled but not produced by it.
Success of art takes many forms, but satisfaction of the beholder is rarely
Good design demands a level of passion and
care-taking on par with the creation of art. Exercising design at that level
can result in artful, desirable solutions. Good design is not art, however, and
is more valuable for that.