How Design Is Different From Art

We often come across design and art, but we rarely stop to identify what the differences are between these. So here goes:

  • Design is done with a purpose in mind. If you’re designing a chair, for example, its goal is to seat a human comfortably. If it doesn’t meet that goal, it has failed as a chair. Whereas a work of art doesn’t have a purpose it needs to fulfil:
  • Design has constraints. A chair needs to be made of material that’s affordable, for example. It shouldn’t shatter if you accidentally hit it with your leg. It shouldn’t decompose in a week. And so on. Art doesn’t have any constraints.
  • Art is usually an individualistic activity, while design is often done in a team, in a company, government or other organisation.
  • So design lends itself to a career more than art.
  • Design is part of an object, while art is a separate object, like a painting or a sculpture. By contrast, if you’re buying a chair, its design is an intrinsic part of the chair, not a separate item to buy.
  • Art is primarily created for and appreciated by elites, while design is for everyone.

Consulting CTO. Earlier: Google | Founder | CTO | Advisor