the design disciplines

The designer

A whole range of occupations are called the ‘design disciplines’ — these include designers across the spectrum of specialisations as well as architects, urban planners, landscape architects and others. For all of these disciplines, the act of designing is at the core of their practice.

Within the profession we call 'designers' there are a spectrum of specialisations, including:

  • visual communication designers (including graphic designers) apply themselves to the visual environment, using their knowledge of semiotics, typography, layout, hierarchy of information, human perception, etc. to design a very broad spectrum of visual works extending through graphic design applications: books and magazines, websites, apps, wayfinding, illustration, motion designs, etc. to more abstract systems of identity, branding and strategic planning.
  • industrial designers (sometimes also called 'product designers') apply themselves to objects that will be produced industrially, using their knowledge of materials, manufacturing techniques and ergonomics to design furniture, electronics, household goods, equipment, vehicles and more. 
  • fashion designers apply themselves to clothing, accessories and other garments, using their knowledge of materials, tailoring, pattern-making and garment manufacture to design technical wear, “fast” fashion, shoes and handbags and more. Technological advances enable the integration of health and communications capacities to clothing and accessories, enhancing the scope of the fashion designer’s reach.
  • interior designers apply themselves to interior spaces, using their knowledge of materials, building components, decorative surfaces, space planning, sourcing, light, color, sound and ergonomics to design functional and pleasing interiors for restaurants, offices, homes, retail spaces, hotels, etc. improving quality of life and safeguarding health in private, public, commercial and work environments.
  • service designers apply themselves to the design of an intangible good, a service, using their knowledge of psychology, logistics and communication to design systems and processes to provide a service.
  • UI/ UX designers work within the digital realm to the design of a user interface (UI) or user experience (UX), applying their knowledge of technology, psychology, ergonomics to design websites, web applications and other digital tools.

These categories are by no means exhaustive. Some designers apply thier knowledge to very specific apllications such as 'food design' or 'exhibition design.' There are designers that work exclusively for the virtual world creating fashion or furniture or anything else for purely on-line virtual environments. As needs evolve, so too do specialisations within the design profession.  In practice, there are often overlaps and hybrids between categories of design.