Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by pierre. pierre Wonders, “Is design a science or an art?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, pierre!

Are you a fan of design? You’ve probably heard the word many times. Maybe it makes you think of the style of your clothes or the cover of your favorite book. Have you ever dreamed of designing things yourself? Maybe you already make works of art with unique designs.

But what exactly does design mean? It’s not easy to pin down. Design is a broad term that means many things to many people. The word came from Italian (disegno) and French (dessin) words that both mean “a drawing.”

In many instances, a work of art or a new product starts with exactly that: a drawing. A creator starts by sketching out what they think the final product should look like. That’s true no matter what they’re designing—from a new piece of clothing to the latest gadget.

The best designs, though, focus on much more than just appearance. The artistry of how a product looks can be very important. Still, success will depend upon how well the product works. To make sure a product does well, careful thought must be given to both its function and its features.

Thinking about a product’s function will help a creator decide which materials to use. It will also help them determine how the function can be reflected in the product’s form. The process calls for as much science as it does art.

In fact, some experts believe that the best designs are those that combine science and art. For years, many people have thought that the sciences and the arts were quite different. However, modern thinkers believe that the two must be combined to keep innovation flowing.

If you think about it, that makes sense. The most beautiful product in the world won’t be useful unless it functions the way it’s supposed to. And the most useful products might be overlooked unless art plays a role. It can go a long way toward making them appealing to users.

You can see this in the world of smartphones. There are many choices in the marketplace with all sorts of different functions. The best smartphones, though, are those that combine those functions with a pleasing form.

Some educators are seeking to incorporate this dual view of science and the arts in schools. In some areas, the traditional STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering, and math—are now called STEAM subjects. This reflects inclusion of the arts.

Interestingly, this all isn’t really a new idea. Some of history’s most influential figures from the past were both accomplished artists and scientists. They used their artistic talents to help them understand the scientific principles at work in the world around them. One example is Leonardo Da Vinci. His drawings show that he fully understood the unique combination of art and science and how important it was to innovative thinking!

Are you an artist? If so, learning about science and math could help you with your designs. And vice versa! As we’ve learned here today, design is both an art and a science.

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, NCAS.A.1, NCAS.A.2, NCAS.A.3

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