Why Design Matters – Alain de Botton

After learning about the psychological responses that design can evoke and the ways that humans are able to assign characteristics to designs, it is important to realize the significant role design plays in each of our lives. Aside from functionality, Alain de Botton described how design can be used to inspire or remind people of certain ideals. It was interesting learning how architects and designers thought about who would be using the space and they were creating and how they were going to be using it. For example, when the design surrounding lawmakers was to remind them of their jobs and who they were serving. This is an alternative perspective of design because the user isn’t guiding the design of the space, instead the design of the space is helping guide those inhabiting the space. Another compelling argument Alain de Botton made was about how people liked certain design because it embodied who they wanted to be. This idea is well represented in how design has evolved over time. From the Palace of Versailles to the Bauhaus and Modernism, design follows the times and ideas that surround it. The design of the Palace of Versailles reflects the need to express and flaunt wealth, whereas the Barcelona Pavilion reflects balance and modernity. Similarly, in a much smaller scale, people have a tendency to surround themselves with objects that can help reflect who they are. For example, their phone case, they make decisions about color, size, and pattern, depending on what characteristics are important to them and what they want to say to others. Even though design can have a huge impact, it is important to note that in the end, Alain de Botton said that “design is just a suggestion.”


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