Philosophy of design

Philosophy of design is the study of assumptions, foundations, and implications of design. The field is defined by an interest in a set of problems, or an interest in central or foundational concerns in design. In addition to these central problems for design as a whole, many philosophers of design consider these problems as they apply to particular disciplines (e.g. philosophy of art). Although most practitioners are philosophers, several prominent designers and artists have contributed to the field. For an introduction to the philosophy of design see the article by Per Galle[1] at the Royal Danish Academy.

Philosophers of design, or philosophers relevant to the philosophical study of design


  1. ^ Galle, Per. "Philosophy of Design". KADK. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
Activity-centered design

Activity-centered design (ACD) is an extension of the Human-centered design paradigm in interaction design. ACD features heavier emphasis on the activities that a user would perform with a given piece of technology. ACD has its theoretical underpinnings in activity theory, from which activities can be defined as actions taken by a user to achieve a goal.When working with activity-centered design, the designers use research to get insights of the users. Observations and interviews are typical approaches to learn more about the users' behavior. By mapping users' activities and tasks, the designer may notice missing tasks for the activity to become more easy to perform, and thus design solutions to accomplish those tasks.

Applied arts

The applied arts are all the arts that apply design and decoration to everyday and essentially practical objects in order to make them aesthetically pleasing. The term is used in distinction to the fine arts, which are those that produce objects with no practical use, whose only purpose is to be beautiful or stimulate the intellect in some way. In practice, the two often overlap. Applied arts largely overlaps with decorative arts, and the modern making of applied art is usually called design.

Example of applied arts are:

Architecture - also counted as a fine art.

Goldsmithing and artistic forms of metalworking - until the Renaissance art in metal was often the most prestigous, but subsequently it has lost ground.

Ceramic art

Artistic glass and enamel

Automotive design

The fashion industry

Furniture design

Paper marbling applied to books

Computer-aided garden design

Computer-aided garden design describes the use of CAD packages to ease and improve the process of garden design.

Professional garden designers tend to use CAD packages designed for other professions. This includes architectural design software for the drafting of garden plans, 3-D software and image-editing software for visual representation. But tailor-made computer-aided design software is made for the amateur garden design market. It contains some of the functionality of the more advanced programs, packaged in an easy-to-use format.

Conceptual design

Conceptual Design is an early phase of the design process, in which the broad outlines of function and form of something are articulated. It includes the design of interactions, experiences, processes and strategies. It involves an understanding of people's needs - and how to meet them with products, services, & processes. Common artifacts of conceptual design are concept sketches and models.

Design brief

A Design brief is a document for a design project developed by a person or team (the designer or design team) in consultation with the client. They outline the deliverables and scope of the project including any products or works (function and aesthetics), timing and budget. They can be used for many projects including those in the fields of architecture, interior design and industrial design. Design briefs are also used to evaluate the effectiveness of a design after it has been produced and during the creation process to keep the project on track and on budget. Some firms rely on them more than others but there is a move towards greater accountability in the design process and thus many people find them most useful. They usually change over time and are adjusted as the project scope evolves. Often they are signed off by the client and designer at set stages in the project.

A design brief may use the following layout:

Title page

Table of contents


Company history

Company Profile


Designer Profile

Company Name

Past Accomplishments

Problem Statement

Problem Description




Needs of the Problem


What you plan to accomplish

Due dates

Solution Analysis


Planned Solutions





Design choice

In engineering, a design choice is a possible solution to a problem. Given a design task and a governing set of criteria (design specifications), several conceptual designs may be drafted. Each of these preliminary concepts is a potential design choice. Many never advance beyond the preliminary phase; those that are developed to the point at which they could be applied become the pool from which the final selection is made. This process stems from the principle that there is usually no uniquely right way of accomplishing any task. The final selection is often made on a financial basis; i.e., the least expensive design is chosen in a bid process.

In civil engineering, design choices usually derive from basic principles of materials science and structural design. A suspension bridge, for example, uses the fact that steel is extremely efficient in tension, while a prestressed concrete bridge takes advantage of concrete's relatively low cost by weight and its ability to sustain high compressive loading (see compression).

Design classic

A design classic is an industrially manufactured object with timeless aesthetic value. It serves as a standard of its kind and remains up to date regardless of the year of its design.

Whether a particular object is a design classic might often be debatable and the term is sometimes abused

but there exists a body of acknowledged classics of product designs from the 19th and 20th century.

For an object to become a design classic requires time, and whatever lasting impact the design has had on society, together with its influence on later designs, play large roles in determining whether something becomes a design classic. Thus, design classics are often strikingly simple, going to the essence, and are described with words like iconic, neat, valuable or having meaning.

Design controls

Design controls designates the application of a formal methodology to the conduct of product development activities.

It is often mandatory (by regulation) to implement such practice when designing and developing products within regulated industries (e.g. medical devices).

Design pattern

A design pattern is the re-usable form of a solution to a design problem. The idea was introduced by the architect Christopher Alexander and has been adapted for various other disciplines, notably software engineering.

Design theory

Design theory is a subfield of design research concerned With

various theoretical approaches towards understanding and delineating design principles, design knowledge, and design practice.


A designer is a person who makes designs for objects. A fashion designer designs clothing, a web designer designs web pages and an automobile designer designs automobiles. In each case, the designer works with the help of a technician or engineer who understands deeper level concepts of manufacturing and engineering and the designer themself is largely confined to work at a surface level.

More formally, a designer is an agent that "specifies the structural properties of a design object". In practice, anyone who creates tangible or intangible objects, products, processes, laws, games, graphics, services, and experiences is referred to as a designer.

Energy neutral design

An Energy Neutral Design is a Design of any type (Website, Multi-media, Architecture, Art, Music, Entertainment, etc.) that has the environment and low energy consumption practices in mind during all stages of planning and production.

Energy neutral design can also refer to environmentally powered electronics, where devices absorb or harvest energy from the immediate surroundings and transform it to the electricity they require for their operation. One example of this is the Batteryless_radio. More recently wireless sensor networks and internet of things devices have featured energy neutral designs where light, heat, motion or other forms of energy are converted to electricity.

Lella Vignelli

Lella Vignelli (August 13, 1934 – December 22, 2016) was an Italian designer who was the founder of Vignelli Associates. She had "a lifelong collaborative working relationship" with her late husband, Massimo Vignelli. She was known to be the business arm of Vignelli Associates and she played a key role in the success of the design firm.

Platform-based design

Platform-based design is defined in Taxonomies for the Development and Verification of Digital Systems as: "an integration oriented design approach emphasizing systematic reuse, for developing complex products based upon platforms and compatible hardware and software virtual component, intended to reduce development risks, costs and time to market".

Process-centered design

Process-centered design (PCD) is a design methodology, which proposes a business centric approach for designing user interfaces. Because of the multi-stage business analysis steps involved right from the beginning of the PCD life cycle, it is believed to achieve the highest levels of business-IT alignment that is possible through UI.

Property designer

A property designer or prop designer is a person who designs props for use in theatre, film, television, etc. Prop designers work in liaison with the costume designers, set designers and sound designers, under the direction of the art director or technical director.

However, the public seems to associate the term with home designer, or an interior designer, a person who is considered a professional in the field of interior design or one who designs interiors as part of their job.

Rational design

In chemical biology and biomolecular engineering, rational design is the strategy of creating new molecules with a certain functionality, based upon the ability to predict how the molecule's structure will affect its behavior through physical models. This can be done either from scratch or by making calculated variations on a known structure, and is usually contrasted with directed evolution.

Research design

A research design is the set of methods and procedures used in collecting and analyzing measures of the variables specified in the problem research. The design of a study defines the study type (descriptive, correlation, semi-experimental, experimental, review, meta-analytic) and sub-type (e.g., descriptive-longitudinal case study), research problem, hypotheses, independent and dependent variables, experimental design, and, if applicable, data collection methods and a statistical analysis plan. A research design is a framework that has been created to find answers to research questions.

Scenic design

Scenic design (also known as scenography, stage design, set design, or production design) is the creation of theatrical, as well as film or television scenery. Scenic designers come from a variety of artistic backgrounds, but in recent years, are mostly trained professionals, holding a B.F.A. or M.F.A. degrees in theater arts. Scenic designers design sets and scenery that aim to support the overall artistic goals of the production.

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