What makes a designer a designer?

If the definition and history of design is far from consensual, so is the definition of a designer. Beyond craft elements that make a designer an apt professional, what makes a designer a designer are more core beliefs and view of the world, as well as how we are seen by others. When we address core design beliefs, we encounter a ‘love/hate’ relationship with designers, where the same that define good design motivate attraction and distancing, curiosity and indifference, support and defiance.

By crossing designer personal attributes with those of executives in top management teams we built a list of attitudinal drivers that we’ve called designer Ethos. These are not limited to our list, not exclusive to designers, and though they might correlate with their ethos, there is certainly no causation. We believe they should be understood and cherished by designers as an act of self-knowledge, from non-designers as an act of empathy leading to a better understanding of where they are coming from, and why. We have described these as a balance between two sides of the continuum, tensions between two distinct approaches, assuming designers can embrace both sides, but when ‘push comes to shove’ designers will typically feel more comfortable in one side of that continuum.


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