Why do designers behave like artists?

Tazo Arunashvili
3 min readMay 9, 2024

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Topics to be discussed:

  • Acting like an artist in the fields of design
  • Self-sufficiency in design and art
  • Association of design fields with artistic behavior

Confusion is starts when we misunderstand and associate designer with an artist, or oppositely — associating a designer with an analytical person. Design is about problem solving, art, manufacturing and the effective management of a whole range of processes, just a well-drawn sketch or 3-dimensional model is not enough. It is combination of both, Let’s specify — creative process + technology integration and management.

Fields of Design and art are close. The process of creating a work of a modern artist or a sculpture is often integrated into design and vice versa, for example lighting design is integrated into art installation and others.

Understandability of work depends more on the viewer and the user, but shouldn’t the creator (designer) take more care to make it more understandable for them?! In art it is different, it is more self-sufficient. Here I will quote the phrase — “If it is art it is not for everyone, but if it is for everyone it is not art” — Jerry Saltz.

As for design — There are cases in industrial design, graphic design, architecture and most importantly in fashion design, when quite often the designer behaves more like an individual artist, compared to digital product designers (User Interface design / User Experience design).

In design fields such as fashion design, industrial design and architecture, the user experience (UX) is extremely important, and the work medium is larger, although time for execution of the work and the release of the final product cycle is longer than in the design of digital products. This is because we are dealing with physical (tangible) bodies. Designing digital products (UI/UX) is related to graphic design. It is a new field and the work process is completely based on digital technologies and fast processes (applications, interface, website…). In the digital product design analytics, team solutions and rapid testing are more important than style, iconography, historical context, and philosophical narrative. This is to briefly view and see difference:

  1. No one buys digital product design (app, website…) for pride, status or self-expression, but for this they buy creations of industrial design, fashion design and architecture (Ferrari, Harley-Davidson, Balenciaga, iPhone, Cartel furniture, house, villa…).
  2. Digital products have almost no possibility of becoming a “souvenir” after years (in a small way), unlike tangible products.

In fashion design, industrial design and architecture, we often find celebrity websites, designer awards, author books, despite the fact that there are as well plenty of group projects, dependence on technology and budget, restrictions and laws. The drivers here are tactile ergonomics, space, history, status and engagement of all five human senses. There is also more proximity to fine arts (painting and sculpture).

According to perception and comprehensibility, UI/UX design will be ranked first among graphic and digital products design, because finger and eye (non-touch) ergonomics are more involved and also closer to technical fields, the more precisely they are designed for simplification. The work of graphic design, for example, a logo or an indicative image, may at the same time be easy to understand, and there is still some hidden idea behind it, which a smaller category of observers will understand or everyone will understand after some time. Also, sacred symbolism is more relevant in graphic design than in UI/UX design.

UI/UX design (User interface and User experience design) — In this field, the behavior of the designer as an artist is less typical. A strong individualistic behavior in this field will destroy the process because the designer is completely dependent on developers, electrical and computer engineers, project managers and others. Therefore, artistic individualism is less visible in this field than in fashion, furniture, transport and architecture design.

To sum up, art is more self-sufficient. Here, it is more necessary for the audience to understand the work itself, than for the author to “chew” the concept, content and form for them. The percentage of self-sufficiency in design is extremely low because it is a complex and practical field. There isn’t an exact line with either, and it can move with context, eras, and other factors, so my infographic at the top of this article represents the contrast of it in both fields.

Tazo Arunashvili

Industrial Designer

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Tazo Arunashvili

Industrial Designer | Entrepreneur | Lecturer | Innovation programs manager