Design and styling are not the same thing

I have become increasingly frustrated at the way people use the word design. Hugh Pearman’s article The art of non-design (Private View, DW 8 September) finally prompted me to inquire as to whether I am the only one feeling this way.

Surely design is about identifying a problem and offering a solution to it. The solution obviously can be a good or bad one, but the aesthetic appearance of it relates to how the solution has been styled. But then you have to ask, is Philippe Starck, for instance, a problem-solving designer or an incredibly talented stylist?

Am I being too controversial or do I have a right to be fed up with being shown an acclaimed amazing new chair design which offers me no benefits over my existing seating arrangements except being branded as a “designer” item?

I strongly believe that good design is unarguable and stems from a thorough identification, investigation and interpretation of an existing problem. Once the constraints of the solution have been identified, visual aesthetics either enhance or detract from the success of the design.

Aesthetics are a form of art and open to criticism, a good design solution is not. Let’s try and not confuse the difference between good design and good styling.

Celia Gates

Design manager

Imperial International

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