Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley
Design is the way something is planned, arranged, and made. A designer aims to create things that look good and do their job well. Most manufactured objects—including the page you are reading, the chair you are sitting on, and the clothes you are wearing—have been designed. Increasingly, computers are used in design.
The successful combination of form (how good something looks) and function (how well it works) is the basis of good design. A chair, for example, should look good and be fit for its purpose—which is to provide a safe, comfortable support for a person to sit on. There are many institutions that award prizes for excellent designs.
Designs change as lifestyles and tastes change, and as new materials and technologies develop. For example, in the 20th century, eating styles became less formal, and people wanted convenience. At the same time, new materials such as stainless steel became available. As a result, kitchen products became more streamlined and more desirable.
Some 40,000 years ago, people sewed hides together to fit the body, using needles made from mammoth ivory and reindeer bone. This was mainly for survival, but gradually more emphasis was placed on the decorative value of clothing. In many ancient cultures, such as Egypt, Greece, and Rome, fashion was linked to wealth and social status.
Designers sketch out ideas on paper, decide on materials, and then make detailed drawings. They also make sketches on a computer to create images of three-dimensional models, which the designer can then manipulate and view from all angles. Usually a prototype (trial product) is built and fully tested before being manufactured.