DIGMA's definition of design is based on government industry classifications that are used to collect, analyze and track economic data. The industry definition of design includes advertising, architecture, graphic design, industrial design, interior design, landscape design, and specialized design services such as fashion, textiles and lighting.
Increasingly design refers to services, customer experiences or a way of thinking and solving problems.
In contrast to industry data that measure design establishments, data on occupations (or talent) capture the people who are trained in specific skills but who may work in a variety of different industries. Design occupations encompass architects, landscape architects, animators and multimedia artists, art directors, fashion designers, graphic designers, interior designers, commercial and industrial designers, set exhibit designers, merchandise displayers and specialized design occupations.
Design practitioners are more likely to define design in terms of disciplines such as information design, service design, automotive design, branding or packaging design. While these categories more accurately reflect design practice, they do not conform to the way governments collect data and therefore are generally not used by researchers.
Once one leaves the realm of economically proscribed design definitions, the question of "what is design" takes on much larger meanings. Today design is no longer limited to a decorative role or even necessarily associated with tangible objects. Design is discussed as a verb and a process, a brand, a bridge and medium. Increasingly design refers to services, customer experiences or a way of thinking and solving problems. DIGMA's global literature review surfaces a small sampling of the many definitions that characterize design today.