Design is a creative act. It is the way we decide how we want things to be. Everything we create is designed by somebody. Design can describe many things. It can result in creating something physical, like a building or it can be a series of analytical diagrams created to help solve a problem or a vision put forward to negotiate multiple interests and propose a solution.

It is important to understand design as a verb and a noun; and both a problem defining and problem solving activity that brings together many different pieces of information in order to identify and develop new opportunities. Design should be understood as both a process put in place to do something, and an outcome of creating something.

Characteristically, design is an iterative process where scenarios may be developed for testing and many options are considered and evaluated. The design process is non-linear, requires multiple attempts, iterations, reviews, feedback and testing of proposals in order to achieve a successful outcome. It is often highly visual in output, where solutions are presented through drawing, modelling and other means of graphic communication.

To seek out best outcomes, many courses of action can be examined simultaneously including pragmatic requirements, conceptual ideas and innovations, economic realities, environmental challenges, regulatory contexts, and community aspirations. Innovative solutions are often found between disciplines – a key role of the designer being to understand the interconnectedness of its parts by synthesising multiple elements into the best possible outcome.

Finally, design is an activity based on critical thinking and collaboration, where the designer is often required to vision an unplanned future. The designer must translate process into outcome in order to change existing situations into preferred ones, unlock new potentials, drive innovation, and deliver social, economic and environmental value.

Good design

This policy establishes a baseline of what is expected to achieve good design, across all projects in NSW. Good design is a phrase that encapsulates the aspirations of Better Placed including its vision for NSW, its definition of good process, and its outline of objectives for the built environment.

Good design creates useable, user-friendly, enjoyable and attractive places and spaces, which continue to provide value and benefits to people, the place and the natural environment over extended periods. Good design brings benefits socially, environmentally and economically, and builds on these benefits over time – it adds value.

Further reading