As a designer, one of my greatest questions centers around the value of design, in particular the aspects of design that make it effective, successful, and a valid approach to solving particular problems. I am of the mind that there is rigor and logic to design that is similar to the rigor of scientific research and inquiry. A candidate for the head of the School of Design suggested in a presentation that designers need to quantify design to convince the scientific folks that our approach is valid. This really troubled me.

I am not saying that particular aspects of the design process cannot or should not be quantified. It’s not necessarily a question of one or the other. But if we believe that design is a legitimate approach we must find ways to understand the rigor and logic in order to communicate that to others rather than adapt scientific approaches. The latter will not truly advance the understanding and appreciation of design. And if we quantify design with scientific approaches, would it even be design?

Certainly, there is a lack of understanding of design by both non-designers and designers. But attempting to quantify design is not the way to increase understanding. It merely attempts to treat a symptom of a larger problem.