Different forms of design

Close up of stationary drawer

We all know there are many forms of design: interior, architecture, fashion, game, industrial, landscape, product, urban and even sound and of course Graphic and Web (to name a few).

There are a lot of differences between them, in particular the material used. The one thing all design does have in common is their purpose. Caren, Director of WonDesigns, says…

Design is the art of drawing the right kind of attention when creating necessary visuals to be visually pleasing.

Design in everyday life

People like to refer to what separates humans from other animals and design is definitely one of them. As humans, we appreciate form and flow as well as good functionality. Often the viewer doesn’t even realise how much they are enjoying the design of something, until they are faced with something visually unpleasing. Take the iPhone for example; incredibly ground breaking in its function, but its form, oh the design of it is absolutely spot on – the use of classic colours, clean features and pleasing curves all the way round the hardware and software.

Wants you poster

Design has always been a part of our lives in some form of another, but not always with the same motivation. During World War Two, the arts and ‘design’ of beauty was a way of escape, people enjoyed going to the theatre and went to great lengths to preserve all forms of art. Design of posters and propaganda was used to recruit young men to war. There is the famous Lord Kitchener poster “Wants YOU”. A hugely influential image and slogan, it has also inspired imitations in other countries, from the United States to the Soviet Union.

In the 1020s the American architect, Louis Sullivan coined the phrase “form follows function”, this changed the way design was perceived and the purpose thereof. Design is never (or should never) be about pointless embellishing and ornamentation. Not to say that embellishment and ornamentation is pointless, but rather that when a creative is designing, every angle, shape, colour has a purpose – even if it is simply for balance of the piece or to draw your eye to a certain section. You may think some areas of a design have no purpose, to test it, take it away or cover it up. If the design no longer works, it had a function. If it no longer works, the design had a function. If the design is better or unaffected by the change, it should never have been there in the first place. This means that the designed piece was not well thought through and designed in the first place. You may have heard that good design is achieved not by what else you can put in, but rather that you can’t take another thing out. Simplicity works pretty much every time.


This now brings me to branding – the purpose of design cannot be mentioned without including branding. Let’s for arguments sake, say all businesses have beautiful, clean, modern and balanced design. What is missing? Individuality! The propose of design HAS to be about more than just beautiful design, uplifting the function of a visual. It HAS to take into account what makes you different/unique. Your design also HAS to fit you into your specific industry and target audience. We expect to see colours used for certain industries, medical designs are generally orange, blue and green – never black! Large finance corporates favour blues and greys with accents of other colours – never bright and leery. Child targeted designs are the bright multi coloured colours – never dark and crisp. They all have their own set of design ‘rules’. It is then within these rules you then create individuality. Maybe you push the boundaries a little or a lot if your client wants to create a bit of a stir. But never alienate your audience – this is the opposite of design. Design has to give one message for all views if it is to be seen as a strong piece of design.

I will leave you with some inspirational quotes:

Design is the method of putting form and content together. Design, just as art, has multiple definitions; there is no single definition. Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics, Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated – Paul Rand


Design is a funny word. Some people thinnk design means how it looks, but of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works – Steve Jobs


Good design is good business – Thomas J. Watson Jr