I am in design school, but I am not a designer. As I plow through stacks of assigned readings, my non-designerly brain is straining to distill erudite works into comprehensible nuggets. And entertain itself late at night. Here goes...
The Design Way
Chapter 1: The First Tradition
Everything kickass in human history that someone did on purpose should be considered design. And the geniuses who achieved these things should be called designers but probably weren't because the world has never fully appreciated the awesomeness that is design. (Note to future-designer self: Create an experienced reality to fix this!)
Imagine something that doesn't yet exist, then make it: that's design.
Designers can't know the full impact of their creations ahead of time. They're not God, duh. But their creations can still have large-scale impact, either good or bad.
Why do we design? To survive, to improve, to develop, to create. And because we can. Designing gives us a sense of control over our lives and an opportunity to move closer ourselves to perfection.
Back in Plato's day, thought was hot, and manual labor was not. This situation didn't bode well for design, which unites thinking and making. The situation today isn't much better. Consider: we still distinguish between blue-collar and white-collar work. Does maintaining this distinction serve us?
The pre-Socratic era had the idea of design broken down into useful chunks, but by the middle ages, it had become oversimplified to the point where people mostly abandoned design as an answer as they struggled to deal with the changes taking place around them.
Nowadays, people react to problems in their lives by trying to solve them. But some problems cannot be effectively solved with a problem-focused mindset. They are part of a larger system that cannot be optimized by ignoring all but one or two of the revelant variables.
Design wisdom combines reason with observation, reflection, imagination, action, and production. Being design-wise means you can shift from an analog experience of life, to a digital or analytic perspective of the world, and back again.
Agents of change: chance, necessity, and (design buzzword...) intention.
"Design utilizes a process of composition, which pulls a variety of elements into relationship with one another, forming a functional assembly that can serve the purposes and intentions of diverse populations of human beings." (pulled verbatim because this sentence did interesting things to my brain)
A designer should critically analyze the nature of design. Think and practice with intention. Spread the word.