We’ve all wondered. Especially in Cape Town at the moment, the concept of “design” is thrown around with the expectation that everyone just automatically knows what it means. On the contrary, however: it’s hard for most people to wrap their minds around, even those who deal with “design” every day. As far as we can tell, the answer to the question we’re so often asked is this: there IS no good definition.
It’s true: everyone you ask, every website you visit, even people who design things for a living will have a different definition of “design.” Some people think of it as exclusively art-based: graphic design, for example. For others it conjures images of well-made objects: product and architectural design, in these cases. Some think of places and spaces when they hear the word “design”: for them, the concept is associated with public planning, landscape or interior design. Still others think of “design” in broader terms: for example, “design thinking” as a method of problem-solving.
When Julie and I were recently in Cape Town attending World Design Capital events, other participants would ask us if we were designers. Does “design” have to be explicitly in our job titles for us to be designers?
These are questions that the Cape Town World Design Capital brings up every day, and they’re incredibly important to answer: in a city dedicated to design, who is doing the designing? It is just the artists and engineers and planners and architects? Or is there a way that everyone could be involved?
Although it often feels like the “design world” is closed off to non-professionals, in our teachings, EVERYONE is a designer. To us, design is using creativity and imagination to create something that doesn’t exist; it’s using the skills and materials you have to address the problems around you in new ways. As we’ve emphasized in our presentations, workshops, and other events we’ve conducted in making Youth Design Studio a reality, everyone faces difficulties on a day to day basis. Whether they’re professional or personal, we all have challenges: and we all have the power to design solutions to those challenges. The key is feeling like you have that power.
You could say that’s our objective in being a part of Cape Town World Design Capital: we want to make sure that EVERYONE knows they have a place at the design table. No matter who you are – no matter what age, job, city, nationality, ethnicity, or anything else – YOU can help design the world you want to live in. Whether it’s in your home, school, office, community, city or globe, you CAN contribute to solving the problems around you! To us, that’s what design is.
If you’d like to start a conversation on what design is to you, we’d love to hear from you! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or get your ideas out there by Tweeting us @ImagineMoreOrg or posting on the Imagine More Facebook page! If you’d like to learn more about Imagine More and how we use design in our work, feel free to visit our About Us section.