Design vs. Art

In preparation for a User-Centered design seminar that I was leading for a local non-profit, I got to thinking about the difference between art and design. Of course, I Googled “design vs. art”. Surprised, as always, by the amount of results- I started sifting through…

Design vs. Art:is an interaction, experience and product design blog of a design agency based in Munich, Germany. An entry on this blog went into great detail about the high-tech train doors in Europe and their contrary design to instruction feature. Big door handle, little yellow button- large sign that says- “don’t use the handle, push the button.”

I was asked how I would define the difference during the User-Centered Design seminar from one of the more cheeky participants. I answered: Art is about individual freedom expression (push) and design is about creating an accessibility of ideas (pull).

If you have to give the user instructions on how to use your design, whether it is a door-opener or a website, you have missed the mark. In the design world, we call it “bad usability”.

Impact, metric of success, inspiration… when creating an art piece, my goal is to impact a person emotionally and to question parts of their reality.In design, I am trying to offer a solution to a problem. A successful art piece would make a person laugh, cry be filled with hope, want to make a change or contribute. A successful design creates a more effective, efficient and satisfactory user experience that would lead to higher degree of use with a more comfortable thought process.

So, with art, do we create cognitive dissonance on purpose? In design, we try to reduce the stress of the interaction.What about the synthesis of the two disciplines- usable art?

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