How does design affect our lives?

Design has a profound impact on our daily lives. Yet we rarely think about it…
How important is design in our everyday life? What is design? How does it influence our social and personal perceptions?

Before we get into understanding what design really is, it is also important to remind ourselves how we absorb information. The way we perceive the world is through our five senses. Sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch, these independent senses enable our minds to better understand our surroundings. Depending on the type of experience, our senses collaborate to help us form perceptions and trigger emotions. As we progress through life we start to build a library of experiences, which we recall upon to help us make quick informed decisions. These sense experiences help us navigate through life, working closely alongside other factors when influencing our decision making process such as environment, age, belief (personal relevance) and influencers (social, celebrities, friends).

Now, without going into detail about cognitive psychology and neuroscience on human behavioural patterns, on a basic level it’s very easy to see how the above senses and additional factors can determine our choices. Designers and marketers for decades have been tuning into ways to do this, positioning products, services, entertainment and even culture to gain maximum engagement.

What is design?

Let’s begin with – what is design? The dictionary definition of design is:

“to prepare the preliminary sketch or the plans for (a work to be executed)”
– definition by

The word ‘design’ can have many definitions, but personally I believe it’s about two things – solution driven design or artistic type of design. Both forms of design have helped the human species transcend into the modern world. Our ability to use design as an expressive system as well as a process to develop solutions is evident all the way from our primitive stages.


Solution driven design is creative problem solving. The designer identifies or understands a need, then sets out to find solutions. This is done through a creative process, studying environments, people, figuring out what’s lacking, and how can it be improved. Developing lots of ideas, prototyping and testing to see if they actually work; to me this is solution driven design – where design facilitates a need or purpose.

Here are a few examples of solution designs:


Artistic design is a little different. Its self expressive, emotional, abstract and evocative. It is a process of experimentation using all means from brushstrokes to large iron sculptures, to convey the creators message. This form of design requires the audience to participate in the narrative and engage on an emotional and psychological level.

Here is a few examples of artistic design:


From a personal perspective, design is born out of our desire to elevate our experiences, whether that be on a practical or emotional level. Design encourages us to explore and experiment, it is a process that is engraved in our DNA as species. Individuals who have been able to tune into their creative and curious nature have always managed to see things from a slightly different perspective – this to me is the true definition of design, being original, brave and un-conforming.

As a designer understanding both the solution and emotional engagement of design has never been more relevant. With information now at consumers and audiences fingertips, graphic designers are working harder to build stronger levels of engagement. We are constantly discovering new ways to connect, persuade and influence.

How does design affect our daily life?

Whether we’re aware of it or not, design surrounds us, and can be found in the tiniest of places and items. Take a look at the book sitting beside you, the phone in your hand, the the sign outside your window, the website you are browsing. All of these items have been carefully and thoughtfully executed by designers. Design helps us engage, it keeps us connected to the world, it helps us navigate our way through physical and digital spaces.
Design is used to communicate, depending on who we are – it can be influential by understanding our behaviour and demographics. It has the power to persuade and empower our decision making process.

Wherever we encounter language in written form, we are seeing the work of font and typography designers that subtly (or not) affects your perception of what you read. Graphic design influences and reinforces our brand loyalty to the products we buy, the places we shop and eat. The visual language, tone of voice, imagery and colours have all been carefully crafted so that it reaches you, the reader, in a specific order.

From industrial, automotive to communication design, good designers have all understood the need to connect their creation back to the basics of human engagements. If it does not enhance our physical world or engage with us emotionally, then it is nothing but ideas…

Here are a few examples of things that design has changed in the world forever, and for the better:



Design is never perfect, if this was the case we probably would still be walking around with one of these….





Design is progressive, constantly striving for perfection….


Its effects are largely unconscious or subconscious. Whether that is good or bad is debatable, but you cannot deny the importance it plays in our experiences of our world. Design (graphic design in my case) is more than just pretty pictures and fancy fonts. It’s years of understanding and experimenting, mastering the mediums we operate in, knowing what works and what doesn’t.


Design is carefully crafted and calculatedly placed, so next time you see your favourite advert whilst watching your favourite programme, take a moment and think – why?