Design Disciplines

The term “design” covers a wide range of disciplines, each offering its own specialist skills and services. These are some of the more common design disciplines: architecture, engineering, exhibition and display, fashion & textiles, graphics/visual communications, interiors, multimedia, packaging, product/industrial.

Architecture

Architects design offices, homes, factories, warehouses and other buildings, taking responsibility for structure, interiors, exterior and services. They have a deep understanding of materials, aesthetics, structures, surfaces, building techniques and planning and building regulations, as well as specialisms such as design for disabled access or healthy buildings.

Architects may draw on other design specialisms such as interiors, landscaping and engineering. As well as their design services, architects also operate as project managers, coordinating the specialists and suppliers involved in a building project.

Architects benefit businesses by maximising the use of available space, and ensuring that buildings function efficiently, remain a productive asset and support strategic business activities. They can also redesign existing buildings to improve functionality or meet new requirements. If you employ an architect to design your building you have the added security of knowing that all architects in the UK are professionally trained and required by law to hold professional indemnity insurance. Indeed, the name "architect" is protected in law.

Related disciplines Engineering design, interior design, landscape design, product/industrial design.

Engineering design

Engineering designers produce structural and mechanical solutions to improve the performance of materials, products and buildings. They apply science and mathematics to design and combine traditional mechanical, electronic and electrical skills with computing resources. Engineering designers may work as integral members of a product design or architectural team.

Engineering designers benefit businesses by using their specialist knowledge of materials and structures to enhance product performance, improve quality, or reduce production or maintenance costs.

Related disciplines Product/industrial design and architecture

Exhibition and display design

Exhibition and display designers use structural, graphic and spatial design skills to provide a range of services, including the design of exhibition stands, showrooms, retail environments, display units, point-of-sale material and posters. They offer specialist, practical experience of materials, environments and construction, frequently in three dimensions to create the right impression and make the best use of space and budget. Exhibition and display designers frequently collaborate with other disciplines such as graphics, multimedia, interiors and architecture to produce a coordinated solution.

Exhibition and display designers benefit businesses by offering an environment or product that communicates product or company information with real impact. Exhibition stands and showrooms also provide an effective environment for selling, promoting or displaying products.

Related disciplines Architectural design, graphic design, interior design, product design, multimedia design

Fashion and textile design

Fashion designers create clothes and accessories, such as footwear, gloves and bags, for all age groups. Textile designers create or decorate fabrics, using natural or manmade materials. Their products may be exclusive, limited edition items or mass-produced ranges.

They offer skills that reflect an understanding of human form, movement and emotions, combined with practical knowledge of material performance and production processes. Increasingly, designers use computer-aided design (CAD) to supplement their traditional skills of drawing and creating test pieces. Textile designers may also work with architects, interior designers and product designers as specialist consultants on the application and performance of materials.

Fashion and textile designers benefit businesses by creating clothing ranges that can increase sales, improve the company image, or broaden the company’s appeal to different sectors of the market.

Related disciplines Interior design, product/industrial design and architecture.

Graphic design and visual communications

A graphic designer uses visual communications to persuade and inform through media such as brochures, leaflets, direct mail, newsletters and magazines, websites, presentations, product catalogues and data sheets, training/instruction material, books, posters, displays, logos, packaging and signs.

Visual communications brings together many different disciplines including photography, copywriting, illustration, typography and print. The graphic designer prepares layouts and other visual representations of the finished “product”, then progresses the project to completion, managing the input of other specialists. Digital technology means that much of the creative and production work is now carried out on computer.

Graphic designers benefit businesses by improving the quality, clarity and effectiveness of printed and multimedia communications. Effective communications can increase understanding and awareness of the company and support sales, marketing and public relations initiatives.

Related disciplines Multimedia design, exhibition design and packaging design, interior design, architecture

Interior design

Interior designers plan and design the interior space of commercial, leisure, retail and domestic buildings in close cooperation with the client, considering both the aesthetic and practical requirements. An interior designer will usually have a specialism, such as retail, commercial or domestic interiors.

They have a deep understanding of all aspects of a project, including colour schemes, product display, furnishings, materials and fabrics, as well as surfaces, building and decorating techniques and relevant planning and building regulations. Interior designers are particularly used to working to tight timescales in buildings that are in use. Interior designers may work as part of a multi-disciplinary team led by other professionals. They may also operate as project managers, coordinating the specialists and suppliers involved in an interior design project.

Interior designers benefit businesses by optimising the use of interior space, and ensuring that buildings and individual areas function efficiently and support strategic business activities. They can also redesign existing interior spaces to improve functionality or meet new requirements.

Related disciplines Architecture, multimedia design, display design, textile design

Multimedia design

Multimedia designers work in a rapidly-evolving medium, where communications can be published in many different formats, including video and DVD, audio, electronic documents, interactive web sites, interactive slide presentations incorporating video, CD-ROMs and interactive kiosks. Designers bring together skills and resources from many different disciplines including graphic design, web design, scriptwriting, programming, audio and video production.

With the greater spread of high-speed Internet connections, businesses and consumers now have better access to multimedia presentations previously only available on CD-ROM. Many websites incorporate features that allow visitors to interact, view live multimedia broadcasts, download high-quality audio or video, and receive colour brochures via Portable Document Format (PDF) files exactly as the original, anywhere in the world.

Multimedia designers benefit businesses by improving the impact and effectiveness of communications. Effective communications can increase understanding and awareness of the company and support sales, marketing and public relations initiatives.

Related disciplines Graphic design, exhibition and display design.

Packaging design

Packaging designers create packaging that protects products in transit and storage, and communicates important messages “on the shelf” to potential buyers. Designers work with both consumer products and products sold direct to other businesses. They provide an understanding of materials, logistics, graphics and retail display, as well as relevant health, safety and labelling regulations to meet packaging’s dual role as product protection and promotional vehicle.

Packaging designers benefit businesses by developing packaging that ensures the product reaches the customer in the best possible condition. For companies who market their products through retail outlets, designers develop packaging that gives the product impact on the shelf and makes the product stand out against competitors.

Related disciplines Graphic design, product/industrial design, display design.

Product/industrial design

Product designers work with businesses to develop new industrial or consumer products or modify existing products to enhance performance, improve quality, or reduce production or maintenance costs. They take into account the relationship between the user and the product, the method and materials used in manufacturing, maintenance and disposal at the end of product life.

Product design brings together many different disciplines including engineering, market research, production engineering and packaging. The product designer prepares models, prototypes and other representations of the finished product, then progresses the project to the pre-production stage, managing the input of other specialists. Digital technology means that much of the development and 3-dimensional work is now carried out using computer-aided design (CAD).

Related disciplines Engineering design, packaging