Anyone can Design Anything

Massimo Vignelli, a renowned Italian designer, once stated “If you can design one thing, you can design everything.” The principles and rules of design is applied in every medium. Whether you’re just a Letterer or a Painter, you can become a furniture designer or an architect.

A friend of mine once told me to product designing has become a trend abroad. She advised me to start learning how to design products since pay has been really good for Product Designers. I instantly said “No, that is not related to my work as a web designer.” As a person who started working on graphic design and ventured out to User Interface design for Web and Mobile application, learning how to design an item required knowledge in 3D graphic softwares like Autocad or Blender. If I would like to try product designing, I need to be familiar with materials needed to make a bottle stronger, or how to cut a wood to achieve a desired shape for a furniture. Too much information to take while studying how to make a website’s interface work well for a user’s experience.

When I came across Vignelli from Design Matters Podcast, my view was changed.

I didn’t know I was a designer

I remembered spending my childhood drawing personalised bags and outfits for my story characters. Drawing amazing gadgets and watches for my spy characters. There was no need to think about what materials to use. Imagination was at work and a bit of design guidelines were applied without my knowledge. I used a lot of diagonal lines and a lot of colorful patches for bags used by my character who was into ethnical stuff. More on minimalism for my sophisticated rich characters. A lot of laces and puffy shapes for my girly and bubbly characters.

Bags for different personalities. This was illustrated on 2004. Inspired by W.I.T.C.H.

You see, being labeled as a designer is not only for those who are working on design related companies. Everyday each of us had to deal with decisions “Designers” are facing whenever they work. What shirt color should I be wearing today? What bag would match my outfit? What sock color should I wear if I wear this shoe? These are also similar to questions “Designers” ask themselves when working on an office interior or a web design. Even as young kids, we wanted to choose items that are our favorite colors, because this represents us in a way. Branding. We wanted to have all Barbie bags, shirts and notebooks. Branding.

Even as young kids, we wanted to choose items that are our favorite colors, because this represents us in a way. Branding. We wanted to have all Barbie bags, shirts and notebooks. Branding.

Every medium has its own set of Technical Rules

Going back to my answer regarding trying out product design, I realised it isn’t that far from what I am currently working. Come to think of it, working as a web designer is not the same as being an illustrator. Designing websites requires you to know about the important parts of a website. How to group links to other pages of the website. You have to know what font size and style to use to be readable when viewing on a device. These are some information to remember when designing for a website.

However, things are different when designing for print media. There is a standard size to follow for Tri fold brochures, two fold brochure and a flyer. You need to have a bleed mark for your designs to help the publisher cut your design without having cut out the important parts. Use CYMK for colors instead of RGB.

We learn these technical rules when we want to focus on a certain medium. But that doesn’t mean they are totally different from each other. Yes, we get to choose which colors will match the mood for the website or brochure. We need to make important text contents “pop out”, by making them bigger or bolder.

Yes, anyone can design anything and everything. It’s a matter of learning the technical rules involve in the medium. Creativity is naturally integrated within us, although there are still a lot of design principles we need to know about in order to achieve a better design because design is not just how to looks, it also how it works.

If I get a chance to work on product design, I’d go for it. It won’t be impossible for me to learn how it works. It won’t be hard for anyone who knows how to choose his outfit everyday.

Here’s Vignelli on Design Matters.