Need jet fuel to power your design engine? Sometimes design matters can be frustrating, seem counterintuitive and even contradictory. While navigating the waters of good and bad in the design world, an sine qua non is simply learn from the masters. We’ve mined thoughts from ground-breaking thinkers who contributed to the topic of design to compile a list of 30 quotes on design.

30 Quotes on Design

“If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.”

Ralf Speth

“The details are not the details. They make the design.”

Charles Eames

“Design transcends agenda. It speaks to the politics of optimism.”

Paul Bennett

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

Steve Jobs

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Leonardo da Vinci

“Design can be art. Design can be simple. That’s why it’s so complicated.”

Paul Rand

“Design is thinking made visual.”

Saul Bass

“If you can design one thing, you can design everything.”

Massimo Vignelli

“Design doesn't need to be delightful for it to work, but that's like saying food doesn't need to be tasty to keep us alive.”

Frank Chimero

To whom does design address itself: to the greatest number, to the specialist of an enlightened matter, to a privileged social class? Design addresses itself to the need.

-Charles Eames

“Design everything on the assumption that people are not heartless or stupid but marvelously capable, given the chance.”

John Chris Jones

“So that is the design process or the creative process. Start with a problem, forget the problem, the problem reveals itself or the solution reveals itself and then you reevaulate it. This is what you are doing all the time.”

Paul Rand

“…design isn’t about making something look better, it’s about moving someone to action.”

Hillman Curtis

“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.”

John Maeda

To design is to transform prose into poetry.

Paul Rand

“Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.”

Jeffrey Zeldman

“Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose.”

Charles Eames

“Design is content with intent. Content without intent is noise. Intent without content is decoration.”

Joe Sparano

“Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design.”

Charles Eames

Good designers must always be avant-gardists, always one step ahead of the times. They should–and must–question everything generally thought to be obvious. They must also be able to assess realistically the opportunities and bounds of technology.

-Dieter Rams

“My favorite designers are also the ones whose serious skills are matched by the way they embrace playfulness in their work and in their lives.”

Petrula Vrontikis

“Great design is a multi-layered relationship between human life and its environment.”

Naoto Fukasawa

“Design is relationships. Design is a relationship between form and content.”

Paul Rand

“A designer is an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist, and evolutionary strategist.”

Buckminster Fuller

A user interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not that good.

Martin LeBlanc

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

Albert Einstein

“Design isn’t crafting a beautiful textured button with breathtaking animation. It’s figuring out if there’s a way to get rid of the button altogether.”

Edward Tufte

“Design is an opportunity to continue telling the story, not just to sum everything up.”

Tate Linden

“Everything is design. Everything!”

Paul Rand

Design and art are independent coordinates that provide their greatest satisfactions when experienced simultaneously.

-Milton Glaser

Feel free to place your favorite design quotes in the comment section below!

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Chris Henderson

Author Chris Henderson

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