Inspiration

66 Best Quotes About Design (Of All Time)

March 6, 2019

The right words at the right time can help you solve a difficult project, rethink your perspective and even change your life. Whether you’re looking for inspiration or just want to sample the wisdom of other designers and thinkers, here are 66 of the best design quotes.

The Meaning of Design

1. “Design is in everything we make, but it’s also between those things. It’s a mix of craft, science, storytelling, propaganda, and philosophy.” — Erik Adigard, Communication and Experience Designer

2. “Design is where science and art break even.” — Robin Mathew, Designer

3. “To say that something is designed means it has intentions that go beyond its function. Otherwise it’s just planning.” — Ayse Birsel, Designer, Author and Co-founder of Birsel + Seck

4. “Design is as much a matter of finding problems as it is solving them.” — Bryan Lawson, Author, Architect and Scholar

5. “Truly elegant design incorporates top-notch functionality into a simple, uncluttered form.” — David Lewis, Industrial Designer

6. “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” — Steve Jobs

7. “Art is solving problems that cannot be formulated before they have been solved. The shaping of the question is part of the answer.” — Pete Hein, Architect, Poet and Mathematician

8. “In a very real way, designers create the human environment; they make the things we use, the places we live and work, our modes of communication and mobility. Simply put, design matters. And at a moment in our history in which the scientific community has issued serious warnings about the negative impacts of our flawed designs-from global warming and water pollution to the loss of biodiversity and natural resources-designers have a critical role to play in the creation of a more just, healthful and sustainable world.” — William McDonough, Architect, Designer and Author

Mobile Design Quotes

9. “Experiences we have come to expect on mobile apps have created new standards and expectations for all digital media including the web. The result is websites are evolving to become more app-like in their rich functionality.” — Raj Aggarwal, Cofounder of Stealth Startup

10. “End users not technologies shape the market. Consequently, marketers need to stay abreast not only of technological developments but also of the way people respond to them.” — Matt Haig,  Author of Mobile Marketing: The Message Revolution”

11. “Mobile is the enabling centerpiece of digital convergence. Mobile is the glue for all other digital industries to use when approaching convergence, but mobile is also the digital gateway for the real world to join in this global metamorphosis of human behavior.” — Tomi Ahonen, Author, Consultant and Motivational Speaker

Good and Bad Design

12. “Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent.” — Joe Sparano, Designer and Teacher

An image rendering featuring a quote attributed to Albert Einstein that says “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
Love this.

13. “The public is more familiar with bad design than good design. It is, in effect, conditioned to prefer bad design, because that is what it lives with. The new becomes threatening, the old reassuring.” — Paul Rand, Art Director and Graphic Designer

14. “You can have an art experience in front of a Rembrandt… or in front of a piece of graphic design.” — Stefan Sagmeister, Designer at Sagmeister & Walsh

15. “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

16. “I’m convinced that without bad design, the world would be a far less stimulating place; we would have nothing to marvel over and nothing to be nostalgic about.” — Carrie Phillips

17. “The alternative to good design is always bad design. There is no such thing as no design.” —  Adam Judge, Author of “The Little Black Book of Design”

18. “Just because something looks good doesn’t mean it’s useful. And just because something is useful does not make it beautiful.” — Joshua Brewer, Co-founder and CEO of Abstract

19. “Simplicity, carried to an extreme, becomes elegance.” Jon Franklin, Writer

20. “Designers think everything done by someone else is awful, and that they could do it better themselves, which explains why I designed my own living room carpet, I suppose.” — Chris Bangle, Automobile Designer

21. “What works good is better than what looks good, because what works good lasts.” — Ray Eames, Designer

22. “Designers love subtle cues, because subtlety is one of the traits of sophisticated design. But Web users are generally in such a hurry that they routinely miss subtle cues.” — Steve Krug, Author and UX Professional

23. “The next big thing is the one that makes the last big thing usable.” — Blake Ross, Software Engineer

24. “A Design isn’t finished until somebody is using it.” — Brenda Laurel, Scholar, Author and Researcher

Clients and Users

25. “If you do good work for good clients, it will lead to other good work for other good clients. If you do bad work for bad clients, it will lead to other bad work for other bad clients.” — Michael Bierut, Designer and Educator

26. “I’ve never had a problem with a dumb client. There is no such thing as a bad client. Part of our job is to do good work and get the client to accept it.” Bob Gill, Illustrator and Graphic Designer

27. “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.” — Red Adair, Oil Well Firefighter

An image rendering featuring a quote that says, “What is best for your clients is best for your company.”
Completely true.

28. “The role of the designer is that of a good, thoughtful host anticipating the needs of his guests.” — Charles Eames, Designer

29. “The customers, the visitors, the patients, the readers, the guests, whatever you call them — their experience is what determines the company’s success or failure. So focus first on the overall experience. It’s strategic, not tactical. It’s about the people, not the tool. Focusing on the larger picture first will set a better context in which to work — later — on usability tactics.” — Mark Hurst, Founder and CEO of Creative Good

30. “Pay attention to what users do, not what they say”Jakob Nielsen, Usability Expert, Co-Founder and Principal of the Nielsen-Norman Group

31. “You have to start with the customer experience and work your way back to technology.” — Steve Jobs

Art and Design in Life

32. “Art must not be concentrated in dead shrines called museums. It must be spread everywhere — on the streets, in the trams, factories, workshops, and in the workers’ homes. — Vladimir Mayakovsky, Artist, Writer and Actor

33. “Each color lives by its mysterious life.” — Wassily Kandinsky, Painter and Art Critic

34. “The conception of ‘artistic work’ presupposes a distinction between useful and useless work and as there are only a few artists, buyers can be found even for their useless products. The artist’s work lies beyond the boundaries of the useful and the useless.” — El Lissitzky, Artist, Typographer and Architect

35. “I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster, and leaves less room for lies.” —  Le Corbusier, Architect, Urban Planner and Designer

36. “Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen. — Leonardo da Vinci

Learning and Design Quotes

37. “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” — Pablo Picasso

38. “It’s through mistakes that you actually can grow. You have to get bad in order to get good.” — Paula Scher, Designer and Partner at Pentagram

39. “It took me a few seconds to draw it, but it took me 34 years to learn how to draw it in a few seconds.” — Paula Scher

Quotes About the Creative Process

40. “Love blinds us. Don’t love anything — an idea, a tool, a graphic, a technique, a technology, a client, or a colleague — too much.” —  Adam Judge

41. “You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” — Mark Twain

42. “Every great design begins with an even better story.” — Lorinda Mamo, Designer, Blogger and Interior Stylist

43. “Accidents often produce the best solutions. Only you can recognize the difference between an accident and your original intent.” — Jennifer Morla, President and Creative Director of Morla Design

44. “Engineers and designers simultaneously know too much and too little. They know too much about the technology and too little about how other people live their lives and do their activities”. — Donald Norman, Author, Professor and Co-founder of the Nielsen-Norman Group

45. “Have no fear of perfection — you’ll never reach it.” — Salvador Dali

46. “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.” — Shigeru Miyamoto, Pioneering Nintendo Game Developer

47. “Testing with one user early in the project is better than testing with 50 near the end.” — Steve Krug

An image rendering featuring a quote that says “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
That it does.

48. “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” — Maya Angelou

49. “This is what happens when we design for everyone — we ‘dumb things down’ to the point that they become useless or inefficient for most people. How does this happen? Well, because although everyone in the world might want to use your product or your website, they’ll want to use it in a very particular way.

50. In order to design your product well for them, you need to understand how they’ll use it and design to support that behaviour.” — Leisa Reichelt, Head of Research and Insights at Atlassian

51. “A startup founder who ‘gets’ user experience and design will likely create a more successful product than one who does not. It’s not just because a great user experience makes a product more enjoyable and ultimately fun to use. It’s because this type of design thinking and understanding of the customer seeps into every other aspect of the product.” — Jeff Gothelf, Author, Business Consultant

52. “Design thinkers look past a project to the next project, to the next step in the strategy. They look sideways to the tangents that are affected by the result, and longer term to the investment required as a result of solving the problem currently in front of the team. No problem is solved in isolation—either from the past, or from the future.” — Mark Dziersk, Industrial Designer, Managing Director at LUNAR

53. “Usability testing should not be a stage gate in your design and development process. It should be a tool with which to gather helpful, diagnostic information from your target users. It’s a means of understanding the goodness of a design’s fit to the intended users’ problems.” — Paul J. Sherman, Founder and Principal Consultant of ShermanUX

54. “If you can make something significantly clearer by making it slightly inconsistent, choose in favor of clarity.” — Steve Krug

55. “Far too often, we treat web development as a sprint rather than a marathon. It is the experience designer’s job, in part, to help everyone walk the steps of the experience they’ll create before they run—especially when they’ll be doing so in tandem.” — Andrew Maier, Design Researcher

Quotes About Teamwork in Design and Beyond

56. “A healthy team is made up of people who have the attitude that it is better to learn something new than to be right.” — Bill Buxton, Computer Scientist and Designer

57. “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” — Michael Jordan

58. “Paradoxically, when we advocate for the user within our product or service development teams, we are, in effect, simultaneously advocating for the team to our users.” — Michael Cummings, Usability Analyst

59. “UX suffers when we wall ourselves off from the rest of the organization. Getting people from other disciplines involved gives them the opportunity to feel that you’re all working toward a common goal. At the same time, it gives you the opportunity to advocate user-centered thinking and gain that critical buy-in.” — John Ferrara, Senior UX Designer at Ferrera

60. “Remember, teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.” — Patrick Lencioni, Author and Founder of The Table Group

61. “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” — Helen Keller

An image rendering featuring a quote that says “Dream big, work hard, stay focused, and surround yourself with good people.”
Good people make all the difference.

62. “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” — Phil Jackson, Basketball Player, Coach, and Executive

63. “There is no such thing as a self-made man. You will reach your goals only with the help of others.” ― George Shinn, Sports Executive

64. “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” ― Sir Isaac Newton

65. “None of us is as smart as all of us.” — Ken Blanchard, Author

66. “Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” — Amy Poehler, Actress, Author, and Television Producer

And finally, a bonus quote for designers, and anyone striving to make their mark on the world:

67. “Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else.” — Judy Garland, Actress

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