What is design, really? For those who have been practicing design long enough, it is impossible to ‘unsee’ unethical designs that’ve been applied and paid for. One would ponder on the cosmetic up-sell by the designers in their respective industries without considering the consequences of their actions being reflected directly on to the nation.

Design itself is accepting. It doesn’t judge on how it is being carved. Generally, everyone accepts the design surrounds them on a daily basis; subconsciously, they adapt to it – even if one can consider the design to be an abomination. They accommodate and move on – the quandary is not theirs to bear. It is the principle core of every designer to create responsible (and if possible, functional) designs to begin with. These base values tend to peak either after obtaining many years of experience, or with impeccable observation and research during the post-adolescent years.

So what constitutes good design?

It is, after all, a subjective issue. In most cases, it is a staring competition between clients and designers: whoever blinks first will submit to the other. From a business perspective, good designs will echo the brand that supports the products and services from the client’s point of view. Most clients will view design as a secondary option, just short of sales and marketing. However, the fact remains that there are products and services that succeed in breaching the consumer market without the support of good design. So what does this mean?

Are mediocre designs taking over the industry?

Should designers put in any more effort just to stay in the game?

Should the graphic design industry stay relevant as a career platform?

No. Yes. Definitely.

In retrospect, practicing designers shouldn’t be worried about mediocre designs – but they should be aware of them. The existence of these designs should only be seen as an advantage, where the industry is subliminally continuing to be separated from the pack, i.e. the difference between inferior designers and superior designers. One would think that a designer would gauge themselves and determine which category they would fall into – but in most cases, they don’t. Here lies the thin red line between receiving an opportunity to rebrand a multinational corporation and the possibility of designing a 2-colour A5 flyer for a home business – without being prejudiced to either job, it’s the potential that separates the situation.

Surely any practitioner would want to acquire an outstanding career rather than a passive job – a difference that is still yet to be understood by most. The choices that designers make are also considered a design. Whether it is a design for success or a design for complacency, it is still a choice.

So back to the question: What is design? Design is, quite simply, a functional blueprint; it is a guide that assists in behavioural reactions; it is also an effortless (well, almost) process. On top of that, it entails the upholding of an ethical code of professional conduct. It is a way of life – and in most designers’ cases, a life worth living.