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« Investigating the future of user experience organisations | Main | Article: Practise, don't preach »

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Keith Tizzard

I found the article ‘Better by Design’ by Nico Macdonald (RSA Journal August 2005) very interesting and would like to make the following observations:

What does ‘design’ in a general, non-specific way offer that other disciplines do not? Nico Macdonald’s quote of the Nobel laureate, the economist Herbert Simon, suggests that many different people, in many different disciplines, design. These people are not necessarily classified as designers.

Moving on to what ‘design’ may be, Nico states, “first and foremost, design is human-centred and humanistic”. Later on he says “the next key, and related, elements design brings are prototyping, evaluation and iteration”. These may well be qualities, characteristics or properties of design but they are not unique to it. Many other disciplines and approaches would claim to use these terms.

I started my working career in Operational Research, although I steadily moved more to computing. Nevertheless OR, or Management Science as it is sometimes called, would advocate very similar ideas. Although modelling is central to OR and may sometimes be mathematical, the ideas of prototyping, evaluation and iteration are found there. Much the same can be said of Systems Theory, which has a biological foundation, or Systems Engineering or software design. I suspect that architects would regard themselves as designers of buildings and sometimes community facilities consisting of collections of buildings. There are examples where architects and planners have fully consulted members of the community. Although OR addressed many micro-economic problems such as logistics, there were a number of public service projects in the health services and the design of community facilities.

We are familiar with the existence of specific types of designer such as product designers, graphic designers or software designers but are there people who classify themselves simply as ‘designers’ and are there courses in this non-specific design area? If so, what do they cover?

Isla Fisher

Hello there, I came here via your article in Creative Review and I was very interested to read that you'd written in the RSA journal.

Based on your "Don't Preech - Practice" entry, what do you think to this article? http://noisydecentgraphics.typepad.com/design/2005/10/mike_demspey.html

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