Design by Committee
I like to look at this painting every so often to remind myself how things can go so wrong even when they seem like they are going right.
If you haven’t seen this image before, the description of the project is amazing. An effort to find the “People’s Choice” art award a market survey queried respondents from around the globe on what aspects of art they enjoyed.
- How much to spend? (200 - 500?)
- Busy or Simple? (turkey wants it busy)
- Naked, Partial, or Clothed? (the u.s.a. wants them fully clothed)
- What size? (the web wants dishwasher sized)
Results were tallied for various countries and “The Web”, the paintings were created to spec with total disregard for an overall vision / goal / theme and the results are completely unappealing. I originally found this site via the excellent email on Design from Dan Winship of years back.
Design & Choice
I was talking with someone about Design about a year ago and we go into the topic of choice vs. decisions, we debated this.
Committees make decisions
Making decisions is the process of evaluating and understanding the options from various possibilities and then merging and pruning the list of possible options until only 1 option remains; which could be a hybrid of the original possible options.
Design makes choices
Making choices is the process of evaluating and understanding the options from various possibilities, then selecting one of the options. The design process suggests that this selection be iterated on and further choices made. Part of design choices means knowing that other options are valid but possibly lack a clear expression or vision.
Decisions vs. Choices
The difference between choices and decisions is subtle , some of it has to do with the quality of your ingredients and some of it has to do with compromise at the wrong stage of development. Is the process all that matters? A process that is used to constantly create new possible options and choose from those instead of making Frankenstein out of the options given? The design process will constantly emphasize the goal in the iteration of options leading to a choice. I don’t think that definition clear, but it’s the best we came up with.
Allowing More Choice
If design requires choices that defines a vision and other designers incorporate that design with their own vision… How do we create this space where design can make choices according to a single vision and still allow other designers  to continue making further choices toward their own vision? And further, how do you have a meaningful community other designers can make their own?
 As in, “Everyone is a designer”, by choice or by accident.