There is more to design than working with a framework or a process. As the lines between thinking about design and actually designing blur, it is important to understand what is going through the mind of a design practitioner.

This is the architectural design perspective, but there will we similarities between how other disciplines of design view their craft.

The foundation of design is form, space, and order. Francis Ching’s Form, Space, and Order is a good primer.

Form is shape and structure.  The shape of information, the structure of a building, or the layout of a website affects how we perceive, experience, or interface with it. 

Space is the volume or area created by the form of an organization where human interaction takes place.  A room in a building, an atrium, the virtual space of a computer, or the hierarchy of a business.    

Order is how the parts of an organization or an experience relate to the whole and ultimately convey a shape or structure’s purpose. 

Understanding form, space, and order help one to make sense of what is real in a multifaceted, highly networked society–it’s a way to sort and organize information.  It can be used to illuminate the underlying values, trends, or beliefs of any organization.  It enables one to cut through an image-saturated environment and arrive at ground truths.

What’s next?

Shapes, geometry

Defining space

Spatial relationships

Organizations: central, linear, radial, clustered, grid

Connections and networks

Scale and proportion


Creating order






Whether you are designing a building, developing urban master plans, or you are a seasoned leader guiding a company or an entrepreneur starting up, knowledge of the principles of design can help you make sense of the present.

When you understand where you are working and how you can begin to work with and shape your context, you can start to build the future.

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