Few concepts in design are as broad as design. Over the centuries, it has developed as a term for the field responsible for designing everyday items. The beginnings of its implementation as a concept and field could be observed already in the Baroque, and its dynamic development is undoubtedly identified with classicism and the Chippendale style. Thomas Chippendale developed and published pattern books illustrating furniture designs. It was the first known case in history in which studies of things and objects were created in a way that enabled their further and multiple replication, which we could today call a guideline for serial production, or simply, technical or production documentation.

At this point, it is worth taking a closer look at a phenomenon that can be observed more and more often in design – especially in Poland – namely the mass retreat from associating design with the design of everyday products prepared for production – even if not mass production, at least mass production.
The very etymology of the word “design” gives us a signal about what a design designer, a professor teaching it or a student adept at design arts should do, and the often added term “industrial” only confirms the first association.

“Design” comes from the word “pattern”, which tells us directly that it should be something that can be duplicated, and the documentation created during the design process should constitute the basis for the production of a given item and its production as easily as possible.
Examples of design in the strict sense include Dieter Rams’ designs for the Braun or Vitra brands. They are a perfect reflection of what is most important in design – impeccable functionality, perfect ergonomics, ecology, timeless aesthetics, and above all – as industrial designs – a form thought out to optimize production.

Meanwhile, for several years we have been observing a shift away from design understood as designing everyday items, or a change in the meaning of this concept. Looking at the projects created by many young Polish designers, their diploma theses and design exhibitions, it seems that qualifying these projects to the category of design is no longer justified. Naturally, projects exhibited today are most often, for example, fully ecological, which means that, in accordance with the ten principles of good design formulated in the late 1970s, they have some design feature, but often it is the only link with the project defined as ” design project.”
A huge part of the projects that are promoted as design are unique products that require manual work and can even be made only by a specific designer, as the only person who can produce such a product. Currently, a large part of the products presented by the design faculties of Polish universities, which are called design projects, are directed more towards artistic crafts and DIY products. Can we call things differently that require manual weaving, measuring, cutting or decorating a given form? Or which, even on a serial scale (not to mention mass scale), require techniques so complicated and unpopular in the industry that production would be economically unjustified?

Building awareness of what a design project is and what criteria it should meet must be an indispensable element of educating designers who will be able to combine not only design, technological and material competences, but also business ones. A properly prepared and educated designer is able to direct a design project towards technological and business profitability, skillfully co-creating and reading the design brief, asking pertinent questions, questioning and verifying the assumptions given by the client, in order to ultimately propose a solution that maintains maximum functionality and aesthetics. , fulfilled its purpose and provided a production method well thought out in terms of technology and cost efficiency.

Following this lead, we should look at today’s education program for new designers. Little is said at today’s universities about aspects related to mass production, production technologies or its costs. What’s worse, projects promoted in design faculties are increasingly often works related to handicraft or the use of original materials obtained as a result of a combination of the conditions of a student kitchen and an unspecified work of chance.
The reason for this phenomenon is multi-faceted and begins with deficiencies in the curriculum of subjects in the field of basic economics, materials science, production technology, up to the staff, which is often completely detached from the realities of industrial design functioning in business, and sometimes does not even know current technological trends in industry or does not allow students to obtain such practical knowledge for fear of growing competition on the difficult, because demanding, labor market.

All these reasons result in the education of a new generation of design graduates, not as design designers, but as craftsmen and artists who may be outstanding at what they do, but will not be able to co-operate with the industry and the requirements it poses. Will the next few years be a bear market for Polish design, which has been focusing on handicrafts for several years now? Will this result in wasting the opportunity that Polish designers, entrepreneurs and manufacturers received thanks to the huge EU funds allocated to the development of this branch of services and encouraging the industry to build value and advantage based on the use of design?