Design Philosophy or INTRODUCTION

We have designers of thought, why not design philosophers to the material world in which the manifestations of our thoughts exist.


Introduction to some of the fundamental

considerations to contemporary design.


At the time I saw Ezio Manzini speak, at the Domus Academy, Milan Italy -National Gallery of Victoria, Australia. I believe Ezio was the Head of the Domus Academy. Domus – Italian meaning: Home. The premier design university in the world.

The Domus Academy is a polytechnic university for design. Now everybody knows ‘Italian Design’, with brands like; Ferrari, Lamborghini, Alfa, Fiat, Lancia, Vespa, Olivetti, Bialetti, Armani, Cavalli, Gucci, Moschino, Prada, Versace, Zegna, etc…

As languages have subtle meanings that don’t necessarily translate perfectly, so too does Italian to English. In Italian, the word ‘design’ means both the aesthetic and engineering components of a product. In English, the word ‘design’ usually takes on the meaning of the aesthetic component.

Another example of translation problems between Italian and English is the word ‘plastic’ – in Italian, it means ‘form without shape’, in English it means a ‘synthetic oil-based product’, sometimes with negative connotations. The same meaning, ‘form without shape’…in Italian, can also be applied to the English word for a material called ‘clay’.

Ezio went on about many things that most people didn’t know about, in the design world – or so I got the impression. A good deal of his presentation, of two hours, looked at general findings, esoteric findings, anecdotal findings, incidental findings, ironic findings, the future of design and analogies from industry and research. A thorough investigation of the nature of ‘design’ (in the Italian sense of the word) in the period, on and up to, the early 1990s as well as projections for the future.

Incidentally, Italian design is no longer called ‘Italian Design’ on the account that people come from all over the world to study and work as designers in Italy. Henceforth ‘Italian Design’ is now known as ‘Designed in Italy.’

Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned, that evening, was the design philosophy tools of these three following elements, one concomitant overriding factor and environmental impact:

Eternal – (ADJECTIVE) lasting or existing forever; without end…(of truths, values, or questions) valid for all time; essentially unchanging…eternal truths of art and life…informal seeming to last or persist forever, used to refer to an everlasting or universal spirit, as represented by God/s.” click here: click here: dictionary


“Eternal – everlasting”

Giza Pyramids of Egypt.


Semiotic – (ADJECTIVE) “Meaning of semiotic in English. relating to semiotics (= the study of signs and symbols): They deconstruct text and images on the basis of their semiotic meaning beyond the surface text.” click here: dictionary


Definition of semiotics: “a general philosophical theory of signs and symbols that deals especially with their function in both artificially constructed and natural languages and comprises syntactics, semantics, and pragmatics.” click here dictionary


Ezio Manzini’s interpretation of ‘semiotic’.

“…dealing with a problem at its source.”

Recyclable Plastic Chairs


Minimal – (ADJECTIVE) “…of a minimum amount, quantity, or degree; negligible…synonyms: very little, minimum, the smallest amount of, slightest, least, least possible, minutest, tiniest, littlest, nominal, token, negligible, next to no…(ORIGIN) mid 17th century: from Latin minimus ‘smallest’.” click here: dictionary

“Doing More with Less”



One concomitant overriding factor.

Iconography“(NOUN) the visual images and symbols used in a work of art or the study or interpretation of these…the visual images, symbols, or modes of representation collectively associated with a person, cult, or movement.” click here: dictionary



While these are English versions of the meaning of these words; eternal, semiotics, minimal and iconography. It is felt that were I to speak fluent Italian, my understanding of these words, as Italian words, would be different even if only slightly. Therefore, Ezio, conveyed his interpretation of the words in something everybody could understand, pictures…accompanied by a discourse.

While the word ‘environment’ can take on many meanings. The initial purpose of this topics discussion is in regards to the natural environment. The natural environment and the impact human civilisation is having on it due to its mechanisms of our systems design.

For more information about these three elements, one concomitant overriding factor, iconography. Including our systems design in relation to the environment, please read the additional posts.



Design Philosophy ETERNAL


Design Philosopher or SOURCE NOTES





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