Opposing Views on Design


In order to be the successful and innovative designer, one should comprehend the essence of design as well as its key practical implications. However, the issue under consideration is very complex as different authors propose their vision of design and its key elements. For this reason, it is reasonable to compare the following two works with the opposite views on the essence of design: “The Macramé of Resistance” by Lorraine Wild and What Is a Designer? by Norman Potter.  The experts demonstrate the distinctly different approaches towards comprehending the major elements of design and the key principles that should be used by designers in the process of creating their works.

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Authors’ Historical Periods and Different Interpretations of Design

The analyzed ideas were developed by authors in different historical periods. Lorraine Wild had published her work in the late 1990s while Norman Potter developed the key points of his approach in the late 1960s. Thus, the time gap between the two approaches is almost 30 years, and it is a considerable difference for the dynamic world of design. However, it is still possible to compare the postulates of both authors and make the corresponding conclusions and implications.

Although both authors criticize the current popular approaches to design, they propose the radically different systems of analysis. Lorraine Wild stresses a large number of comprehensive skills that should be utilized by the designer to achieve the excellence in his/her work. In other words, it is evident that the author suggests that only individuals with the unique skills and deep understanding of social reality could become designers. In contrast, Norman Potter believes each individual to be a designer with his/her unique understanding of social reality and the ability to transform his/her vision in some objects or ideas. Thus, the first major difference refers to the basic approach to design. Lorraine Wild believes high outcomes to be based on the development of the highly sophisticated set of skills, and the profession of designer can emerge only when such high requirements are met. Norman Potter suggests that all individuals by their nature possess the inclination towards design, and it is only necessary to develop this inborn understanding.

Lorraine Wild presents the essence of design as the transformation of the deep comprehension of the subject into the final works. In particular, designers should be able to learn how to learn as well as select the appropriate verbal expressions while delivering their messages. In addition, the designer should realize the underlying cultural and historical aspects impacting the perception of the designed object by the target audience. Correspondingly, he/she should utilize surrealism or other forms for subverting the basic initial projects into the products that encourage entrepreneurialism or other similar values. Thus, the gradual transformation of basic skills into the creative objects constitutes the essence of design.

Norman Potter outlines the difficulties with the source of responsibility in the work of a designer. In fact, he/she can be motivated by different factors including working for himself, the general public, God, etc. However, in the vast majority of cases, the designer serves the interests of others. Therefore, the expert stresses the need for orienting to other people’s needs and preferences. Moreover, the process of making changes in the initial project can also be outside the designer’s control. Therefore, he/she should utilize all available means for meeting the objective demands imposed by the external environment.

Thus, the creative process is presented differently by both authors. Lorraine Wild suggests the designer should maximize his/her professional skills and then transform it into the corresponding products relying on surrealism or other approaches. Although she recognizes the need for considering the interests of the target audience, it is only one of the large variety of factors that should be evaluated by the designer. In contrast, Norman Potter believes orienting to the needs of the target audience is the first and the most important elements of any successful design projects. It is impossible to apply any creative ideas without considering the needs of the target audience and the objective restraints posed by the external environment. Therefore, the designer should be highly flexible to reflect the existing diversity among the needs of different people and institutions.

Possibility for Reconciling Authors’ Ideas

Although he authors describe the essence of design in different ways as well as specify different stages of performing the successful design project, it is still possible to reconcile their views. First of all, it is necessary to recognize that the design process presupposes the communication and collaboration of the designer with the target audience. In the case, the designer creates some objects for himself/herself, no conflict or misunderstanding is possible. However, when he/she serves the needs of other people, the designer should be able to utilize his/her knowledge for meeting the needs of people or institutions in the most precise way.

Thus, Norman Potter is correct in stressing the primary function of the designer in specifying the precise structure of target audience’s needs. At the same time, the aspect of possessing and developing the sophisticated professional skills is also important in relation to addressing the identified needs. Therefore, the position of Lorraine Wild is also correct, but it mostly relates to the means of achieving the formulated goals rather than developing goals per se. Correspondingly, the experts’ positions can be reconciled through determining the proper causal relations between the design goals and the optimal methods for attaining them.

The desire to obtain additional skills should not be separate from the orientation to the needs of other people and the entire community. The designer should not make any preferences regarding the style or materials used until he/she considers the preferences of the target audience. Therefore, the ideas of Lorraine Wild should be viewed as the logical specification of the broader design principles in the context of developing designers’ skills and improving their qualification.  Moreover, the effective reconciliation of the above views enables designers to improve their comprehension of the most vital issues and organizing their professional performance according to the constantly changing conditions.

Personal Views

Considering the positions and arguments developed by the above authors, I believe that the comprehension of the essence of design by Norman Potter is the most insightful. The author utilizes the broad approach in his analysis covering such issues as designers’ motivation, other people’s interest, the external influence, etc. Such an approach allows avoiding over-simplifications and grasping the complex designers’ challenges. He explains that actual techniques and methods are secondary in relation to the needs of the target audience. Therefore, the designer should organize his performance in a way that presupposes the correct sequence of actions.

I also agree with Potter’s view about all people possessing some designers’ skills. The reason is that all people can distinguish the works of art from random objects. Although people’s views can differ, the fundamental understanding of beauty and art is common for all individuals without any exception. Therefore, professional designers are not distinctly different from other social members. They can only transform the available resources into the desired objects in a more efficient way. However, the recognition of the common understanding of art may contribute to serving the needs of others in an optimal manner. In particular, the designer can become able to make the timely adjustments when the minor changes in the external environment occur. I believe the balance between flexibility and responsibility is crucial for the analyzed profession.


In conclusion, the provided examination reveals the considerable differences in comprehending the essence of design by Lorraine Wild and Norman Potter. The authors focus on different issues and specify different factors they believe to be crucial for maximizing the designers’ functions. Lorraine Wild stresses the significance of high qualification and the constant improvement of one’s professional skills. The formulated high requirements make it unattainable for the vast majority of the population. However, Norman Potter believes all people are designers in the most fundamental sense, and professional designers only apply this knowledge in the systematic way.

The authors also differ in relation to the sequence of actions the professionals should demonstrate to attain their objectives. Lorraine Wild claims the stage of obtaining skills should be the first one in the process while Norman Potter proposes to concentrate on the needs of the target audience. Despite the substantial differences present in the positions of both experts, they can be reconciled through differentiating between the goals and means used for attaining them. In this context, both positions are helpful for the actual implementation. However, it seems that Norman Potter has developed a more consistent framework with the proper integration of various elements into the logically coherent system. Therefore, I suggest it to be more relevant for the modern dynamic conditions and current challenges.