Have you ever wondered why there are many variations of a particular object? Why each year, new styles of the same smartphones, trainers, and tablets are unleashed in the market? If those things worked before, why change? The answer is this: design matters.
No, it is not just the reshuffling of various elements of an item so it can be pleasing to the eye. Design is more than visual candy. A research from Carnegie Mellon University's Centre for the Neural Basis of Cognition relays that the mind's visual perception guides human decision-making through valence - our inner discernment of positive and negative preferences, which integrates visual features and associations for experiences with similar features. Design, therefore, is the overall experience of a product; the harmonious balance between function, aesthetic, and the memories attached to it.
Design solves a plethora of mundane things we always ignore in our daily lives. Seating, for example. Employees who spend their nine-to-five at their desks may encounter discomfort, back pains, and even spine problems. Proper chair designs are implemented to support the lower part of the body, avoid stress and help improve endurance through the long hours of seated work.
How about road signs? Drafting a subway map or lighting a road sign takes effort, from placement to legibility, as they are key to guiding the drivers safely from one place to another, ensuring that we arrive at the destination with the help of the given details. Design, somehow, is benevolent in that manner, and should not be compared to art, which is a liberal expression of emotions that push function to the backseat.
Age is another factor. Designing for children requires fun, basic products that can be used to boost the child's developing motor and mental skills. As we grow older, design grows with us. At the age of 40, eye health goes spiralling downhill, hearing follows a similar path. The body wears out past 60, making it hard for the elderly to grasp smaller objects or move around.
It is the designer's role to identify ergonomic constraints that the users might face when interacting with furniture or a device. With the diverse needs of the world, design has to solve various problems in different sensory aspects. A good design gathers information from the surroundings and is manifested into a tangible item that is primarily useful and secondarily tasteful. It is inclusive, catering to a specific demographic that requires further focus in their needs.
Kurt Koffka once quoted, "The whole is other than the sum of the parts." In design, we see the entirety before the details. It is as pleasurable as holding a nice, warm cup of your favourite tea, or as complex as interacting with a digital platform of communication. Not to be compared with art, design is a scientific approach to human comfort. It is evident in all aspects of our lives, from textbooks to furniture, to vehicles and business branding.
A good design can inspire, empower and give relief.