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Design & Business are inherently linked

September, 2018

For a while now, I’ve been musing in some form or another that “Design & Business are inherently linked.” Recently I’ve been having second thoughts. I mean, functionally, I understand the commercial nature of Design’s history. Design, as we know it, stems from commercial art, and without the element of business, Design would be even less lucrative (on a local level) than it is now.

As our endless march toward monetization continues, though, the business aspect feels like a co-opting of Design’s positive effect on humans. I don’t want to say that business has hijacked Design to make it about profit instead of people, but that’s kind of what I’m saying. That’s not to say that business and Design don’t have a right relationship that should be loved and embraced. It does. But haven’t we all been taught that Design is about people and relationships? As Joel Califa points out, there is any number of departments inside an organization who are gunning for revenue and monetization. Compare that to a small team of designers supporting revenue initiatives but also trying to create usable and useful things. It gets hairy. Money usually wins out over usability. Business wins out over people.

So to that end, design and business are linked — it’s just kind of a shitty link. I think this reinforces how Jared Spool defines Design: It’s the rendering of intent, and the responsibility of the intent always comes back to the renderer. Are we saying Design is about relationships and people because it’s a best-case-scenario viewpoint, or because it’s what we’re fighting for every day?

I sincerely hope it’s the latter.