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What does ‘Design is everything’ mean?

Indeed, we’d welcome your thoughts on what this phrase means to you, whether you’re actively involved in ‘design’ or not.

To kickstart the process, we invited a handful of industry practitioners to give us their thoughts on what the phrase means.

Read their responses below. We hope their words will inspire you to create and send in your own definition of what this phrase means.

With the view to publication here, we’d very much welcome your thoughts!

Image of an Apple iPhoneIt may not be evident at first but, design is all-important to the progress of engineering, manufacturing, arts, media, medical, clothing, education and much more.

Congleton High School’s Technology Dept via Twitter


From the simplest item you can imagine to the most complex machine, computer software or even a city (and anything in between), everything in our lives is designed.

And our lives aren’t just touched by one design, they’re affected by a fascinating interwoven structure of designs and collections of designs to construct what we call modern life.

So, when we say design is everything, we really mean everything because simply, everything is designed.

Jeremy Hadall, Chair, Design and Production Sector Executive Committee

Image of two unfinished Rubics cubes stacked on top of each otherDesign is about the purpose, artefacts, systems, experiences, teams, interfaces, uncertainties, viability, process and, above all else, delight.


John Clarkson, Professor of Engineering Design at the University of Cambridge

Design to me is taking an idea and applying a set of processes to achieve a result. It is a way of defining problems and producing solutions.

Design is taking ideas from concept to people. People drive design and design drives people; it is the very essence between man-made products and people.

Design is being able to fail but continue to improve, to start over and keep striving to make the smallest of adjustments until the result is achieved.

Pat Walsh, Group Electricity and Operations Technologies Engineering Manager at Nestle UK&I Limited

Designing with intent to benefit humanity and our planet is what makes our lives better. It is one of the most thoughtful gifts we can give to ourselves because it impacts everyone.

Thoughtful, deliberate design of processes and products makes even the simplest of things work well, last long, look good and benefits the many.

Design, like character, reflects our most visceral states of being, thinking and creating: It is about life.

John Patsavellas
Senior Lecturer in Manufacturing Management at Cranfield University

Image of a fold up bicycle Design is the meeting point of creativity, experience, ambition, competence, collaboration and planning.

Done right, it leads to the best possible outcome for something that can be made competitively and that exceeds user expectations.

Steve Brambley
Chief Executive, GAMBICA

Design is the utilisation of multiple processes and technology to solve complex problems of today.

Using proven processes and technology, design pushes the boundaries of creativity and innovation to address challenges and aims to do so in a rapid response time.

Design lends itself to many areas including mechanical design, digital design, product design to name a few.

Used appropriately, many of these areas of design are being applied to drive trends within society.

Anna Whiteley
Design and Development Engineer at the AMRC

Image of a pair of white Sony headphones‘Design’ can be both a verb and a noun. It is the approach we take to deliver a solution to a problem or to exploit an opportunity. What results from that is the ‘design’, be that product, process or system.  We got there by design, not by accident.

David Wright
Director of Strategic Relationships at Coventry University