Design & Business are Inherently Linked(?)

Design & Business are Inherently Linked(?)

For a while now, I’ve been saying some form of “Design & Business are inherently linked.” Recently I’ve been having second-thoughts. Aren’t Design & People the actual link? The business aspect feels like a co-opting of design’s positive affect on people. I don’t want to say that business has hijacked design to make it about profit but that’s kind of what I’m saying.

So to that end design and business are linked - it’s just kind of a shitty link. I think this reenforces how Jared Spool defines design: It’s the rendering of intent. There’s no morality or implied integrity tied to rendering an intent. It just IS. I guess the responsibility always comes back to the renderer.

As I go about my work this week I’m going to try and closely consider my intent. I’ll make a note somewhere on what the intent was behind the thing I’m designing. Maybe that’s the way I put together my conversation with my wife about the budget. Maybe it’s a UI for editors at work. I think design in this capacity reenforces my personal need to be more intentional and to uncover and monitor the why as much as the what.

That’s not to say that business and design do not have a right relationship that should be loved and embraced. It does. Design as we know it stems from commercial art and without the element of business design would likely get pretty boring and pay really terribly. As Joel Califa points out, thee are 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 remain usable, it gets hairy. Money usually wins out over usability.

So to that end, 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?


Keaton Taylor is a designer and front-end developer moving through the world asking lots of questions and being wrong about no less than 50% of his ideas at any given time. He is an IC at Apartment Therapy Media and all his thoughts and ideas are his own.