On Design - Part II


Design can be form, function, creation, or community.  

“Design evokes many disparate ideas depending on who is talking about it and where,” said Louisa Bukiet, an architect by training and recent graduate of Stanford's Civil Engineering Program. Artfully designed objects integrate into our lives without artifice.

The same is true of DIALOGUE. Through dialogue, we create meaning when in-depth experiences intersect, differing each time because of who takes part, where and why. At our On Design dialogue, we engaged product designers, makers, and craftsmen, among others on the question of what good design is, how to recognize it, and how replicate it. Whether it’s conflicting dialectics that synthesize or agreements across gulfs no one expected, dialogue flows and creates.


On Design // Louisa Bukiet


“I’m drawn to the term ‘design’ because it is amorphous. I consciously put it on my business card because it flirts with so many meanings without committing to any.

At dinner at my parents’ house in the Jewish liberal mecca of the Upper West Side, design usually means art, perhaps the type of furniture you’d see displayed at the MoMA. Pivotal schools of “design theory” like the Bauhaus or Frank Lloyd Wright's School of architecture come to mind.

Photo Credit:    Vinobosh Photography

Photo Credit: Vinobosh Photography

Stanford’s tongue-in-cheek d.school takes the d out of the word, masking it to allow it to take on a world of meaning. Design applied across all graduate studies—law, business, medicine, social sciences and, of course, arts and engineering. No one can get a degree at the d.school but its classes are open to graduate students of any other program. The program defines design at its core as multidisciplinary and emphasizes human-centered design, focusing always on the user as the driving force .

Design for the owner of a local artisan fabrication business in San Francisco puts the craft and beauty of his product as second to the jobs and community created by his successful business. His practice of ‘Design’ is a means to build community, to set values in the world.

The best designers ask lots of questions:  How do your users interact with your system? What is the means of communication and how are you choosing to curate it? This includes both the visual impact of a web page or phone app as well as the navigational tools used to traverse it.

I relish calling myself a designer for all these facets. Design is simply a thought-through decision-making process, some way of curating, choosing what’s important. A designer is someone who makes design choices, someone who chooses, for aesthetic, functional, emotional, or whimsical reasons to go in one direction, leaving the other for another day.”