This entry recently appeared on the FluidForms blog; many thanks to Andreas Jaritz for the opportunity…
In 2006, Fast Company published a debate article entitled Can Anyone be a Designer? Andrew Keen and Joe Duffy argued the pros and cons and in the end neither one managed to convince the other (the title of this piece was one of Keen’s closing arguments), but the article raised some interesting questions which services such as those offered by FluidForms are increasingly bringing to the attention of professional designers. Questions not only about who has the right to call themselves a ‘designer’, but also about how design itself is defined.
Joe Duffy began the debate by claiming that
“…everyone plays the part of a designer. Design decisions are made by most everyone, everyday – what should I wear today? What kind of car should I buy? What color? Which options? What about the new sofa for the family room? What design style? Which color and fabric? These actually are design decisions…”
This is an argument I used in an essay early in my design studies. I thought it was insightful at the time, but then I was only 17. Of course, it’s totally wrong. These aren’t design decisions, they’re consumer choices. As Douglas Coupland said in Generation X, shopping is not creating. Arguing that choosing what car to buy is a design decision is like arguing that taking an aspirin is a medical decision, and that therefore I’m playing the part of a doctor, as one CSven argued on ProductDesignForums recently.