Having been a designer for the whole of my seventy years working life, it struck me the other day that quite a lot of people would have little or no idea how much designers impinge of their lives.
Not much is produced without a designer of some sort having been involved in its creation, whether it’s designing the label that goes on a match-box, or the exotic craft that we now have exploring the planet Mars for us.
And of course, even in the case of the matchbox, someone designed the machines that made not only the boxes, but the matches inside as well…
I was a graphic designer myself, originally involved in the designing of all those fancy boxes and other types of packaging that most of the goods you buy in a supermarket, department store or bicycle shop.
Every printed item has first been invented and then drawn by someone like me.
Even at this level there are several types of designer involved as well; there are the people who design the actual fancy shaped boxes that many goods come in, people who design the machines that do the printing, put products in each box and even the machines that apply wrapping plastic round the outside of every pack.
Then of course, we have to consider the designers who created whatever is inside all that packaging, the recipes for edible items, the shape of things like cameras, teaspoons, dusting brushes and the mixture of liquids that go into the making of Chanel No.5 and all other perfumes, (and don’t forget the shape of all those lovely bottles the stuff goes in, as well).
So far, I’ve really only dealt with designers basically like me, people who produce the domestic necessities all around us all the time; but that is only the tiniest tip of the largest imaginable iceberg!
Someone designed the Titanic, (with a vast team helping of course), sadly they failed, or else that wonderful ship might still have been sailing the oceans of the world today.
Another team designed the Boeing 747’s that carried so many millions of passengers all over the world, with many of them still doing so today, and each of the billions of tiny parts required, to assemble into the final construction, needed a different designer, to make them fit, be strong enough to do their job and be as economically priced as possible.
They are the engineering, electrical and aeronautical designers; they also design bridges, cars, cookers and plumbing hardware.
Then of course, there are the architects. Yes they’re designers too, but their skill is in the construction of houses and factories and any other structure that comes under the broad heading of ‘buildings’, and even here there are many subdivisions, people who design windows and window mechanisms, or the machines that accurately cut timber to size and shape, (it’s called prefabrication), or designers of floor coverings, either carpet or vinyl.
And you can even include garden designers in this group, they all play their part!
So what it boils down to, and what I am trying to say, is that virtually everything created by humans has first to be put in the hands of a designer, not necessarily a professional one of course.
How many blokes have sat at the dining table in their home with a pencil and a piece of paper, working out the shape and style of a table, or a patio, or a kid’s bed, while the missus creates that dress she wants for their daughter’s wedding, or the menu for next week’s party?
Even your daily newspaper was laid out first by designers. So was the book you’re reading. So was the unique shape of that bottle of perfume on the dressing table and the pencil box your young son takes to school with his little tools and pencils in it… all envisaged by designers!
One final point I should make after this screed on designers - I’ve made no comment regarding whether the things designed are well designed or not, this is where you get onto tricky territory.
My idea of a well-designed advertisement in a newspaper may be that it is excellent, while another designer might hate it; as with most things aesthetic in nature, the choice is very much in the eye or the ear of the beholder.
Reminds me of the year Jacqui was asked to judge the “Young Queen” contest at our village fete, she chose one of the five little entrants, and immediately made herself four enemies! The mothers of the four non-winners.
And it’s the same in design – sometimes you just can’t win!