Is Design the result of Frustration?

Design is a complex thing to define and further designer is a difficult thing to figure out. What you call design may not be a design at all. Moreover, it is very difficult to make out even if there has been any designing.

I have been trying to look into myself for answers and figure out what is it that makes me think that something is a design. I have been a passionate observer of design since my childhood, and I have promised myself to follow it till the end.
Recently, I have found that Design could be a result of a frustration. An immense urge to act so that the frustration could be pacified. It is similar to problem solving.

In one of the interview, Richard Feynman (physicist) said that problem solving is an act of getting rid of frustration.

He gave a good example of a monkey trying to reach out to the tree for the fruit. But the monkey could not reach out, so out of immense frustration, he grabs one of the stick and tries to shake the branch of the tree. This act is in it-self is a first act of solving a problem. In other sense, it could be a first act to design something to solve a problem.

Have you ever notice that all the scientific theories are born out of problem and not through the need of scientist to express. But on the other hand, every form of art like music, painting, writing has come out of need of artist to express. You can always find a trait or style in an artist, but you rarely find traits in scientist. The approach of scientist could be different but the solution always turns out to be independent of the style.

Therefore, every design is always trying to solve a problem. If it is not than I am sorry but its not a design. I would rather call that an art. Now this is a very controversial for me to be removing design from art. But seriously, I do not think art has anything to do with design. Every art is not a design, but all good design could be taken as an Art.

Art is always a result of self expression, an act to express your idea and thoughts and give them a form. Form could be writing, painting, music, blogging etc. But in the whole process of art, you are always dealing with your feelings and your identity. Your culture, your past and your values come out expressively through art, but not in a design. Though I could have some inner conflict with this idea, nevertheless I can live with it.

But a design and art could be fused together as well if necessary. For example, a sofa or a chair could be designed perfectly with a touch of art. Many would try to defend their artistic side to their design but I think it is up to the designer to decide what experience he wants to express, that is if he wants to.

In the same line, I would want to share something that Bruce Lee told in his rare interview. We all know that his way of fighting was precise and powerful. He said that when he wants to punch someone, he could display complex movement (like traditional Chinese Kong-Fu ). But he said that it was inefficient, instead he would focus all his energy in delivering a powerful punch. So we can argue that his way of fighting was not a art but a resolution to a problem - a problem of either truly defending yourself or attacking your opponent. Similarly traditional Chinese Kong-Fu can be taken as an art of expressing your body's strength and following a discipline.
Art always has rules(discipline) that you are not suppose to break. But not design. Design can be as revolutionary as possible coming out of nowhere and no relevance to past or present. Art can be priceless, but design always comes with a price of performance. You cannot compare arts, but surely you can compare design.

Remember that I am not arguing based on traditional definition of design and art. I am just using the words to identify certain form of process which we see day to day. I am not even trying to define art or design. I wish I could use any arbitrary term to describe what I am trying to but that would make no sense.

So yes, I think that design is a result of pure frustration of seeing something not work the way it should. Also art is always governed by an ego of an artist and it's existence are never questioned or justified. But a design is always governed by a problem and not by designer, hence they always need justification. Sometime mixing these two in your work could lead to disaster.

So when ever I see any form of so-called design, I like to ask 3 questions:
1. Does this solve any problem?
2. Is the decision made by Designer encouraged by the problem?
3. Do you see any sense of brand in the design?

I find the third question important to ask because most of the time, design becomes a style statement rather than being a true design. In such cases, designer is evolved in justifying himself rather than a design. Because when a design comes from a pure frustration, problem drives every aspect of design.

Well, I think I should end my monologue here for now and keep my mind to rest for a while :).


  1. haha...monkey intelligence...
    but one think that haunts me ever, is why we and why not this monkey. we know the trick.. we(human indeed) go for more effective and efficient technique, why not this monkey....its predecessor must have done the same thing but they what makes them to repeat all these actions.(Relativity....ooohoo)

    What I found weak in this article was the term Frustration itself...what is the extent of this much frustrated i have to become to make...may be a resonance transportation..
    can this be measured (Relativity....ooohoo)

    I believe in forces(all natural), I believe they are vector...and their characteristic changes in all possible directional sets. So, I believe..there will be a measure( Relative...hopefully at its nascent state). This will provide the magnitude of this tiny force that is produced by the biological entity..and used to communicate with the subconscious state of their existence(considering entity and existence to be different). And next, the communication know right..the wave superimposition...this, i believe, helps to change the decision and physical actions of a body.

    Positive force helps to motivate,....negative force to demotivate (may be frustrated ..and all)..which would lead to never know..if there is a glass in front of'd probably throw it in where does this energy come from...did you decide yourself to get angry and then later throw this piece away..hehe ...not .
    so where did this energy come from...what makes a mind to be changed.. capriciously.....

    I am not a spiritual guy...but do these guys enter in the meditative state before they get to the Yurikaaa state..

    I must stop here for the to go...take this monologue of mine as a complement....I use too much of dots...nevermind

    (Pointless Commentator (PC))

  2. Hey Anonymous Commentator,

    First, thanks a lot for the comment.

    Secondly, about the frustration. I think limit cannot be define... for example, it must have been some innate frustration about not understanding the state of light/matter that forced Einstein to push himself to solve the problem..

    But not everyone takes their frustration towards positive energy. So what urges people to act, could be a difficult thing to answer.. but once someone takes the step, he/she is bound to be challenged by his/her initial frustration and move ahead to solve it. But its true that not all frustration lead to constructive result.

    I actually have so many examples. Like soduko.. u are in constant state of confusion and frustration.. some cannot handle them and leave.. while some stay till they find the solution... There was this saying by Einstein, the trick in solving problem is to stay longer with it... :)

  3. Yup...i agree (honestly) in few statements of yours. My opinion is somewhat in parallel with yours but I'd love to define frustration and confusion as a perpetual state of Curiosity(C) and Satisfaction(S) ( worst, it could lead to morbidity... ). I would like you to consider combination of C&S.
    What is Satisfaction?
    How do we reach it?
    Does Perfect S exist?
    How does curiosity distract from Satisfaction?

    and about the Einstein thing..again..what do you feel..was it really a frustration or a curiosity?

    Yes, and about the limit thing...we are not going towards infinity...yes force is not bounded my limit..but still we can feel it and relatively measure its magnitude and direction..
    and biological limits like, headache which is a function of a body temperature could be measured. So, before jumping to higher level of limit, it would be better to stay close to what we understand the most...

    Discussion...Contentious..i like it


  4. Perfect... yes i do agree with your idea that it is a perpetual state..may be that is the missing link from my original thought..further, the idea of Vector is great way to take this thought further... if we could contain all the necessary emotions and state ...and represent them with a vector... i think we could somehow define not biological body with all system working...instead a mixture of these vectors vibrating in all direction and their resultant effect provoking us to decide...

    For example..curiosity itself cannot lead to making breakthroughs,,or frustration along.. it has to be mixture of these emotions and much more...

    Understanding the decision making process is a very difficult one..the moment I am writing this.. i am trying to visualize each emotions as a form of energy vibrating with different frequency with different direction..(similar to how string theory considers particle as a manifestation of vibration of energies of different characteristics..)

    And may be the answer to the question like "Why not monkey and why us" could be that we have all the necessary vectors/emotions/energy which provokes us to act and venture....

    By the way.. on the similar thoughts I have this interesting idea on what separates US humans from animals.. may be I will write about it someday.....Off course its going to be one sided because I want to as purely as possible define that idea irrespective of other perspective then get the things rolling afterward..

    -- the whole idea for the post came from the fact that often when I am involved in my creative works, I am unknowingly push myself into a zone where I find very is very transitory..(curiosity,frustration and everything...) but yes I do consider frustration not in sense of negativity but.. the feeling I get is similar....