What is a Designer? A designer is a business professional who develops solutions to commercial needs that require the balancing of technical, commercial, human and aesthetic requirements. A designer can be said to be both technician and artist. A designer plans things for manufacture or construction. The difference between a designer and a craftsperson or artist is that designers usually develop things that have requirements set by others and will ultimately be produced by others.
Design serves industry Design is a commercial activity. Professional design grew out of a need for skilled individuals who could plan products and environments that would appeal to customers. An essential part of design is the preparation of plans and instructions that will allow for the accurate production of the design by others rather than the designer also performing the production task.
Rational creativity The requirements that a designer works to are both objective and subjective. The objective requirements are easy to understand. They are technical and business requirements that allow for measurement and direct comparison. How much will it cost? What is the best material? When can it be finished by? It’s the subjective, creative side of design that’s hardest to explain and hardest for most people to understand. The aesthetic side of design relates to fashion, human behaviour, emotion and cultural influences such as the cultural meaning of symbols.
Rational creativity Designers are immersed in the visual language of their culture and industry specialisation. Designers bring human and cultural values to business problems, values that sell products and services, create demand and inspire customer confidence and loyalty. Design is a planning process. It produces the best solution based on the stated business objectives and the information and resources available. It uses a methodical procedure to ensure that solutions are well thought out and all the known criteria for success are considered.
Design Professions A Career as a Designer Design Disciplines Industrial Design Interior Design Interior Decoration Graphic Design Textile Design Exhibitionand Display Design Fashion Design TV, FilmandSet Design Design Management Design Education Jewellery Design Furniture Design Digital Media
Finding Employment in Design Once you’ve graduated how do you go about finding employment and what are design employers looking for? Clearly with design covering so many different industries it is not easy to give a single answer. However there are some aspects that remain common. These are design procedure skills, materials and resources knowledge, tool skills, communication skills, personal presentation and confidence.
What employers want Design employers want to see evidence that you have design skills that relate to their business needs. Your folio, which consists of the work you’ve collected during study and any commercial jobs that you’ve already done, is important for demonstrating this. In the computer age employers want staff who are familiar with the standard software tools. In many fields of design the office environments have fully computerised work flows making it essential that new recruits are computer literate.
Communication and presentation It’s very important that designers be able to explain clearly and confidently why they’ve produced the designs they have. Employers are looking for this ability to present work confidently. Design courses emphasise this skill. If its not your strong suit be sure that you practise at every opportunity. Design often requires a great deal of client or customer contact. Employers are looking for designers who will make a good impression. This is a mix of knowledge, personal presentation and confidence.
Self employment Many designers choose to be self employed or to run their own small businesses. For some designers it is not a matter of choice, the large numbers of graduates competing for jobs leave them with no alternative. Design skills are well suited to private practice and small business making this a prolific growth area in business start-ups. Designers often find satisfaction in self employment because it can allow them greater freedom in expressing their creative skills and a heightened sense of achievement when they are more responsible for the outcome of projects.
Is it for you? Self employment is not for everyone. To be successful you will need to be a competent designer, a good salesperson, an administrator, a bookkeeper and have the self-motivation, energy and health to keep it up day after day. Some design disciplines are more suited to private practice than others. Product development is usually an internal capability of manufacturing businesses so industrial design (product design), which delivers services to manufacturers, has less scope for consulting designers. On the other hand interior design is much more rarely a permanent requirement of a business and is commonly purchased from an external consultant or consulting business.
Is it for you? There are many books that outline the process of starting a small business and the personal skills and attributes that lead to success. You’ll find these in any good business section of a bookstore or library. There are some excellent guides available through government bookshops and departments as well