Ask DN: Has "Design" jumped the shark?

almost 7 years ago from , Creative Director at Peregrine Communications

Yesterday, here on DN, a link to the new Design Disruptors trailer was posted. It sparked in me a pretty visceral reaction, not too dissimilar to when Eli sees a non-skeumorphic icon.

I felt somewhat irritated by the self-righteous tone it took, as it felt to me like the humble nature of design was being unnecessarily usurped by individuals who viewed their job as being akin to changing the world.

I wrote a strong reaction which sparked two very different comments.

  • The first compared it to celebrity culture – observing that we were as guilty of putting our design heroes on the same pedestal as Kim Kardashian.

  • The second, simply gave me a link to this talk by Wilson Miner.

Whilst I disagree wholly with the first sentiment – and feel that it slightly missed the point I was trying to get at – I found it difficult to disagree with the second.

Wilson Miner speaks of the responsibility and impact Designers can have, and the legacy their work can leave. Now, that's all well and good when you're Jony Ive or Adrien Philippe, but most people aren't.

However, what did resonate with me, was the all consuming passion and belief he had in his own role. It seems that in order to truly make a difference, you need to have this belief in the purpose of Design, and your position within it.

So, to you – has Design "jumped the shark", and will the bubble burst, or are we on the cusp of something greater? Do we need to get over ourselves, or do we need to stand up and take credit? Or is it somewhere in between?

I feel like this is a conversation which is bubbling up around the edges of our community and wanted your thoughts.


  • Tyler Cecchi, almost 7 years ago (edited almost 7 years ago )

    What happened with big data is happening now with design.

    Everyone said you needed it. Big data was the new sexy thing that was going to propel businesses into the stratosphere. But it was all mostly hype and wasn't the silver bullet that people proclaimed it to be. Putting big data to work for most organizations was an incredibly long, difficult and expensive endeavor. People learned that not every business needed to advanced big data analysis.

    Becoming a 'design oriented' organization is a longer, more expensive and difficult process than I think most companies realize. I think that businesses will take the essence of design thinking and employ it at the executive level, however designers being decision makers I believe will slowly dissipate. Instead management consultants and research firms will continue to prove that you in fact do not need designers in order to do design thinking.

    Simply put everyone says that the business value of design is enormous, which could very well be true, but it requires a large investment and is extremely difficult to quantify. Not being able to translate design investment into dollars and cents is the surest way to design losing it's seat at the table (if it was ever really there to begin with).

    That said, you don't need to have influence over business strategy in order to do great design that can in fact be very impactful.

    13 points
  • Christian BehrensChristian Behrens, almost 7 years ago

    Reading Medium posts by Julie Zhuo feels like listening to a broken record. Talks by people like Jennifer Daniel or Mike Monteiro, in contrast, give hope that a design discourse is still possible beyond bubble talk and Silicon Valley bullshittery.

    So yeah, we do need to get over ourselves.

    12 points
  • Ray SensebachRay Sensebach, almost 7 years ago

    It's just marketing for InVision, not a representation of the design industry. Just like Silicon Valley designers are not a representation of the whole design industry. They are just the loudest person in the room (at the moment).

    9 points
  • Eric KarjaluotoEric Karjaluoto, almost 7 years ago

    To me, talking about design is like talking about power tools. Initially, such matters seem exciting; later, you realize they’re both just means of doing things.

    8 points
    • Charlie PrattCharlie Pratt, almost 7 years ago

      I like this. I'd also say it's okay to revisit your love of power tools at any time you want.

      2 points
      • Eric KarjaluotoEric Karjaluoto, almost 7 years ago

        I agree with that. It’s fun stuff—until we all start treating it like it’s going to save the world.

        1 point
        • Daniel FoscoDaniel Fosco, almost 7 years ago


          Also, while “saving the world” is entirely possible, the credit (and the responsibility) should go to the person that did the actual thing, not to the power-saw they used.

          1 point
  • Jordie SaenzJordie Saenz, almost 7 years ago

    I think it's unfair to crap all over UI designers in light of people designing life-saving devices, etc. That's a weird leap.

    That being said, here's another weird leap: I think that UI and Product Designers, in the tech world or elsewhere, while they might not be saving lives, they are adding value to life. Maybe we're not creating radical shifts in the world or saving lives, but we're making life more beautiful. Somebody has to make life beautiful, otherwise everybody's just surviving, and that's it.

    5 points
  • Mattan IngramMattan Ingram, almost 7 years ago

    Design is simply too broad of a word. It's like making generalizations about "math" or "art", essentially meaningless without getting into specifics. This movie seems to be primarily about tech/UI design, which is just one facet of the enormously complex world of design.

    3 points
  • Art VandelayArt Vandelay, almost 7 years ago

    The number of "product designers" that we have in 2016 vs 2014 is a good indicator of jumping the shark.

    2 points
  • Robin RaszkaRobin Raszka, almost 7 years ago


    1 point
  • Zac Dickerson, almost 7 years ago

    Geez. I can understand that there are lots of people upset by this film. I just can't, at least from my perspective see why we can't just extract anything of value from this film and just shelve the rest.

    I would liken it, it UXpin ebooks right. We all know that they are marketing material for their own product. But there is actually some good and useful stuff in there (esp for juniors and other wanting to truly understand more of the process of design), fyi I'm a designer with only around 3 years experience and have alot too learn. There so so much stuff to learn out there and i think its our job to find and absorb as much as we can. and discard the rest.

    having said all that. I think we do need to get over ourselves - Design on its own is really just a plan. We need others to make something.

    The design disruptors film - i'll be watching it (once they get over this over 75 or more group size shit) and make it available to everyone. If not anything else than some insight into what this industry looks at that level? I hope its valuable. if not, oh well.

    0 points
  • Alfonse SurigaoAlfonse Surigao, almost 7 years ago

    Did anyone else read this as "Upcoming Screcnings"? Maybe it's just me. upcoming screenings

    0 points
  • Xavier BertelsXavier Bertels, almost 7 years ago

    I share your sentiment. I have categorised it as advertising, which makes it easier for me to see why I have so much trouble with it. It is annoying, completely unnecessary and perhaps harmful to the design ecosystem. That said, ignoring it, like I ignore advertising, seems to be the best way to handle it for me. It's not going away any time soon.

    0 points
  • Rob McMackin, almost 7 years ago

    Users' expectations for high quality products isn't going to go anywhere soon, but yes we definitely need to get over ourselves.

    0 points
  • Casey BrittCasey Britt, almost 7 years ago


    0 points