what does a designer work with?

what does a designer work with?

to get people from one point to another (i.e., to fulfil a need), if a civil engineer decides to build a road, they work with concrete to do so. likewise— a surgeon works with the body ; a programmer, with logic and code ; an electrician, with current and voltage ; and so on. what, then, does a designer work with?


however, emotion is difficult to work with directly. which is why designers use various other media to affect emotion indirectly. for example: we work with textile to craft clothes; these clothes may make a person feel confident, or comfortable, or flamboyant, or sombre — depending on their material, colour, context, etc.

we’re not textile or product or graphic or interaction designers ; our aim isn’t to “make a poster to so-and-so” or “design furniture for so-and-so” or “make the interaction for this-and-that more efficient” ; our aim is to think, “how can we help a person think/feel/act in desired way”1.

that shift in mindset seems small : it isn’t.


  1. these thoughts drew heavily on my experience prototyping workshops (2022) at the national institute of design, india , and thereafter contributed to me writing a course on ritual design (2023).