A phrase that I used to hear a lot in agency world.

We’ll get a designer on that.

It’s a phrase that simultaneously gratifies and grates for me.

While positively acknowledging the power of “design”, it usually makes an assumption - and presents that assumption - that design is just the work of one person, someone towards the end of the conveyor belt, who will “pretty it up”.

Feed the stuff into the person who will then lay it out, choose the right colours and fonts and Bob’s Your Uncle is probably a tagline that catches your eye.

Another phrase I used to hear in client meetings.

Our designers will make it look great.

Yes. Our designers will. And I’d be confident my colleagues will indeed make it great.

Designers don’t just make things great by making things pretty.

And design is not just the “designers”.

Like Alan Buckley’s commitment to pass-and-move football, I have a work belief that is similarly immovable: Design isn’t the construct of one approach, one theory, one person, and — most importantly — one role. Design is the always result of many of those.

Design is essentially the understanding of structures, the evaluation and manipulation of materials to a defined end/result. Design isn’t about how something looks. Design is how something works.

Take a house.

Off the top of my head: The land surveyors. The architects. A structural engineer. What type of bricks. Mapping out where the sewerage lines go. The plumber. The electrician. The plasterer. Then whoever works out whatever furnishings to put in the house. All of those, and more, contribute to make a home together.

All designers in my book.

Design comes about from a team of people working together to make a thing. They bring their specialist design skills to the work.

Each uses research, evaluation, and then proposes a design solution through their eyes.

Each of those people brings their design strengths to the table, adding into and onto everyone else’s design focus.

The responsibility of design is down to the team.

There may be someone who can “do pretty design”. But it is never about an individual. Design isn’t about an individual ego. It’s about what the team of people working together do. No one person can ever claim the glory.

Design is the team’s work. Design is teamwork. That is all.

ps. If you do want it to be pretty, get a visual designer on that, maybe a graphic designer. Thank me later.


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