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Industries & Professions /
Design is the creation of a plan for an object or system. In some contexts, such as engineering, practical concerns are most important in shaping the plan. But in many fields, aesthetic concerns are of equal or greater importance, meaning that the design has to look good and not just work well.
Although design is a creative act, it does not happen in a vacuum: Decisions about both practical and aesthetic matters can be influenced by design practices that have accumulated over centuries, and also by technologies and artistic trends of the present moment.
As a result, preparing for a career in design means learning not only how to solve technical and business problems, but also how to achieve aesthetic effects. The education and training include instruction in design traditions as well as new technologies.
We encounter designs every hour of the day; even the beds we sleep on have been shaped by designers. Some of the most omnipresent types of designs that we live among are the graphics that communicate to us, the industrial products we use, the interiors we live within and visit, and the landscapes we experience outside.
Graphic designs consist of lettering, images, and any other visible elements among them, such as frames, lines, and use of color or texture. A design must communicate the information or emotions that are intended but also be visually appealing.
About 194,360 people work as graphic designers, mainly in companies that offer graphic design services, manufacturing, and publishing.
Industrial designs shape every product we use, from cars to toys. In product design, practical matters such as functionality and cost dominate, but they are offset somewhat by aesthetic concerns, such as the hard-to-quantify "coolness" factor.
In 2013, of the 28,540 commercial and industrial designers, most worked for manufacturers and for firms that specialize in industrial design services.
The interior of a dwelling or of a commercial building can be highly functional, safe, and attractive if it gets the right mix of wall colors, carpeting, lighting fixtures, furnishings, potted plants, and other materials.
About 43,710 people work as interior designers, concentrated in firms that offer design services.
Everywhere except in the most densely built urban settings, our structures are surrounded by open spaces, and all spaces except wildernesses, open waterways, and agricultural land are designed landscapes. A good landscape design incorporates and arranges plant materials, the contours of the land, and sometimes water in ways that harmonize with any structures and pathways within the landscape. Sometimes a design repurposes a landscape from a different use, perhaps remediating a damaged ecosystem.
This design work is done by landscape architects and landscape designers, both of whom are employed mostly by firms that specialize in this business. Approximately 16,330 people work as landscape architects, mostly for architecture or engineering firms.