Design. What is design?
The answer to this question will be different for each people as the word 'design' is not a word which defines a specific object, but it is a vocabulary of action.
Functionality over Aesthetic quality
It was until the 21st century people started to realize the importance of visual aesthetic beauty. End of 19th century and beginning of 20th century was time of industrial revolution where technological advancement started to accelerate from being dormant. And during the time, the emphasis and the focus of the act of creating or manufacture were on an element which heavily influenced and deeply implemented in human mind, the functionality. People understood that whatever they created has to work, otherwise, it was considered useless. The aesthetic quality was secondary.
This dominance of functionality over aesthetic quality heavily influenced large (almost all) population around the globe - it became almost like a regulation where that the hierarchy where functional quality is higher than aesthetic quality. That became the obvious rule where people agreed upon and it became hard to understand why people would start focusing on the beauty of a product in first place. And the remnant of the emphasis on the functionality still remains today implemented vastly in people's mind.
I was also heavily influenced by the concept which taught the hierarhy of functionality comes before the visual beauty. However the statement was incomprehensible to some degree. As an artist I understood the functional aspect of any design is important as it is obvious that any design you create should actually work and fulfil its purpose, otherwise it becomes a piece of sculpture (unless the purpose of the object you created is a sculpture). Hence I understand that functional element is important but what I did not understand was the fact that 'why aesthetic qualities were not emphasised enough'. I just did not understand as I knew both of them were equally important however I was not able to find a suitable answer and adequate reasons to support my statement - the reason why aesthetic element is important as the functional element. Then I came across the 10 principles of design by Dieter Ram.
The 10 principles of design directs you what a good design should be. All the 10 of those principles were very powerful reasoning but when I was reading the 3rd principle, I felt a shiver running down on my spine.
The 3rd principle:
Let me reiterate this specific portion of the quote:
"A good design is aesthetic... because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being."
While I was reading this principle, I had to stop there for a moment because this principle clearly showed why aesthetic quality was equally important as functional quality. It was something that was so fundamental yet so intimate.
The People and Well-Being
Good design will influence people - it can shape their inner self.
Well-being is a topic which came up not long time ago - it was only 80s and 90s we started to take the topic seriously. And it is interesting to discover that well-being is deeply integrated with the mental health of human being.
Imagine having a product with slim, very sophisticated and simple design (a good example is Apple). When people first see Apple products, majority will feel that apple product is different to other product - it looks special and different, and makes the user to have this emotion of positive satisfaction when they use the product. This, I believe is due to the aesthetic beauty of the product. I agree that aesthetic property is not the only thing which makes the Apple product so popular, however I want to say that Apple product did distinguish themselves from other products by their competitors with their aesthetic qualities. Therefore we can say that the experience of using the product will influence how you feel about the product, and your emotions - even after you use the product.
Effect on Physical and Psychology
The functionality affects the physical element with human interaction, while the aesthetic quality affects the psychological element of human interaction.
How we visually design of our products can affect the emotion of the user and eventually the mental health of the user. I believe this small influence will eventually have a huge effect on the whole society.
I think Dieter Rams' principle of the design is really focuses on the core of design - it is honest and so fundemental we shouldn't ignore it. Knowing the 10 principle (especially the 3rd principle) provided me a great insight and the gravity of visual communication by design.
To close my words, I believe design is a process of creating a particular subject to help the humans who later will use it. I believe, as a human being, it is our duty to help and create the world a better place for human to live in, and aesthetic value does play a big role inside this process.