Friday, March 14, 2008

Four Domains of Design

Design can be conceptualized in four main domains - images, objects, places, and experiences.

Images include graphic or information design such as design for print (flyers, magazines, books, etc.), logo design, typography, websites, children's book illustrations, animation, storyboarding, graphic novels, branding, etc. A keyword search on any of these topics will yield a wealth of information to inspire lessons. Paul Rand is often considered the father of graphic design ( At the site there are also articles about other graphic designers such as the type designer Matthew Carter.

Steven Heller and Philip Meggs have written about graphic design for years and their articles and books provide a wealth of information. The main professional organization for graphic designers is the American Institute of Graphic Artists.

Object design is sometimes referred to as product design or industrial design. Raymond Loewy is often considered the father of industrial design. Object design includes design of transportation, clothing (fashion), costumes, shoes, furniture, appliances, etc. Common activities for product designers include making exploded view drawings and creating prototypes.

IDEO is one of the top design firms in the world and a video (on YouTube) about them designing a shopping cart is an excellent introduction to the design process they refer to as The Deep Dive. The Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA) is the main professional organization for product designers.

The design of spaces and places includes architecture, interior design, landscape, urban planning, exhibit design, etc.  Urban planners often use a specific design process called a charrette and usually develop models to solve design problems and communicate possible solutions. Frank Lloyd Wright is often considered one of the world's most important architects and well as one of America's most important citizens. There are some important woman architects such as Zaha Hadid and Denise Scott Brown. Art Director is the name given to people who supervise the development of sets for movies and Oscars are awarded for this area of space and place design.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA), American Architecture Foundation (AAF), and Amerian Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) are some of the professional organizations for designers of spaces and places.

Experience design is the newest of the design fields. It includes CHI (computer-human interface) design, user-friendly design, digital game design, theme parks, children's museum design, and the design of toys and games. Anything where someone is expected to interact with the design and become part of the design event is experience design.

Some important experience designers include Walt Disney, Will Wright (the Sims), and David Rockwell. Nathan Shedroff wrote an early, useful book called "Experience Design" ( and there have been many articles and books on the topic since.

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