Getting back to the basics of design

Has the design discipline lost its way? John Rousseau at Designmind says that as design has become increasingly professionalised, it's also lost its sense of self, creativity and risk.

At a time when ideas are being rapidly introduced, assimilated, commercialised, rendered passé, and then remixed, the design industry is becoming increasingly disconnected from its own history and, accordingly, is lacking a clear sense of where it’s going. As designers, our values have become diffuse and mutable, codified by the conflicted interests of society, popular culture, and business, and reinforced by the fragmented, myopic character of the Internet. From Apple to artisanal axes, design has never meant so much – or so little – to so many people.

Meanwhile, professional practice has evolved radically. New disciplines have emerged, erasing conventional boundaries and generating possibilities, while traditional modes of production have declined and disappeared. Business leaders have finally realised that design drives innovation, creates meaning, and generates more than just aesthetic value. The orthodoxy of consulting has been fully institutionalised, as evidenced by its mature rhetoric, processes, and methodologies. The rational has overtaken the intuitive, and our lexicon now owes more to strategy than to art. Design thinking has momentarily replaced design doing. The multi disciplinary team has supplanted the lone creative genius. The professional has overtaken the personal. In short, we have become our own worst enemy.

So where do we go from here?

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