Why Should Anyone Care About Design? And What The Heck Is Co.Design?

A mission statement, of sorts.

People I talk to are always surprised when I tell them that Co.Design isn’t even two years old. To be exact, we launched in July 2010. Since then, it’s been thrilling. At first, it seemed like we were gambling on an audience that might not exist. By now, all of you are gracing us with 6.5 million page views a month (and growing). It’s proof that people "get" what we’re trying to do. But here’s the funny thing: We’ve never written a very definitive mission statement.

Recently, I had the occasion to do just that for a presentation to my colleagues about what Co.Design is and what it is not. I thought I’d share it, because in many ways I think that you feel very much the same way about design as we do. Even if you’re not a designer (and I am not a designer), design is something we all engage with every day. It’s a way of looking at the world that isn’t satisfied with the status quo, and isn’t afraid to offer up a new and better ideal. That instinct is something that everyone can learn from, and apply to what they do, whatever it is. Steve Jobs, as usual, put it better than anyone else. As Walter Isaacson writes in his Jobs bio:

That was the fundamental principle Jobs and [Jony] Ive shared. Design was not just about what a product looked like on the surface. It had to reflect the product’s essence. "In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer," Jobs told Fortune shortly after retaking the reins at Apple. 'But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers.'

Along those lines, what we try to do is keep you informed about the ideas behind today’s best designs. We’re not a fashion blog. We’re not a style blog. We’re not concerned with merely the surface of things. (Though we’ve always believed that the people who get the core of something right won’t settle for a less-than-perfect wrapping.) It is our sincerest hope that the design ideas we cover every day—and the questions they leave unanswered—will make you hungry. That is: Hungry to explore how things could be done better, and hungry to find alternative solutions to problems big, small, familiar, and weird.

This really is the essence of innovation. As I say in the presentation above, design is innovation you can hold. It solves problems that we see every day. And it anticipates how we’ll live tomorrow.

In any event, I hope that the slides above will help all of you communicate to your own audiences about design’s importance, or at least start a conversation about it. And, to be totally honest, I wanted to share them as a way of marking what’s been a really, really fun ride. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned: We’ve got so much more that we’d like to share with you.

[Image: bekulnis/Shutterstock]

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  • Giuseppe Burdo

    I strongly share the mission, thank you so much for the effort. Even I have just few minutes, this is the space to follow.

  • Steve

    Great magazine, minus a couple short sighted authors but overall fantastic content all around.

  • Paul Isakson

    Nicely put, Cliff. 

    I've really enjoyed the evolution of Co.Design's design since it began as much as the content you feature. You have become a must read source for inspiration in addition to staying current on what's going on at the intersection of business, innovation, and design. 

    That said, I did just experience something I think could be improved to reflect your new mission and reflect that you are about things which go deeper than the surface. One of the things that makes truly design driven companies stand out from those that are not is their meticulous attention to detail. Every single thing a great design driven company does is thought through to the deepest possible levels. On that note, having your presentation interrupted by ads every three slides is not a well designed experience. 

    Knowing that you probably have to have advertisers be a part of these things, in the future, it would be great if you could have a presenting sponsor for the slide shows. They could get the first slide and last slide, but not interrupt the flow of content between slides. Or, perhaps they get a static bar across the bottom of every slide.

    Regardless, if it's possible, make them think through the design of what they're putting on the slides they sponsor/buy instead of just slapping up a standard ad they run across the rest of the web. In essence, challenge your advertisers to show their love of design meets the same standards you hold yourselves to.

    Again, thank you for sharing your very nicely put mission statement and great work here. I always enjoy the content you feature and share.


  • Cliff Kuang

    Hey Paul---Thanks for your compliments, and your suggestions. Yes, I agree: The slideshow leaves much to be improved. But we're rebuilding it now! Hopefully settling all the other problems with it--the thumbnail navigation, the image sizing, etc--will make the whole thing a lot more pleasant. Stay tuned

  • Thiago Bianchi

    I thank you and Co.Design team for producing/publishing such amazing articles. Design is one of most promising areas and will definitely influence the way we will socialize and live in the future.
    All the best and even for a financial guy, the articles keep inspiring me...

  • Cliff Kuang

    Thanks for reading Thiago! In some ways, you're our ideal reader: We want to be useful to people who view their role as a creative one, regardless of their job title.

  • Graham


    I'm looking forward to more It's what got me into FastCo. Keep up the good work and inspiration.

  • David González

    For a moment I though you were gonna make the same mistake Wired did just this week with its new "design" blog, but I'm glad you did not. I love every article.