The Root of Design

At the root of the word Design – is a clue into finding the sweet spot between idea and iteration. Design’s roots are from the latin de-signare:  


Signare means mark. It’s where we get the word for signature.  

De- has two meanings:

A positive meaning – of or from as in the spanish “Cinco de Mayo” (Fifth of May).  

A negative meaning – un or non as in destroy (to un-build)


Putting these pieces together reveals that the mark you make is as important as the one you don’t make. Design is half what you do, half what you choose not to do – a balancing act between commission and omission.

The true meaning of words are important. Words, like design, give symbolic meaning to the world. I think digging into these two sides of design can really help focus a concept. It’s easy to get locked in to what you are making, sometimes easy to forget what you’re intentionally not making. Well thought out design needs both. Food for thought.

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