“The difference between design and art is, a design is all about answers and art is all about questions.” – Bredan Dawes. The term ‘design’ is also confused with, ‘art’. Art for art’s sake, as they say. That’s not to say there’s no value in analyzing art according to the time it was made or deconstructing the process. It just isn’t necessary in order for you to enjoy it. You don’t need to understand why a work of art exists or how it was made. All you need to do is appreciate it for what it is. On the other hand, a design has a concrete reason why it exists and a concrete real life problem that it solves. Design geeks love to get into the nitty gritty of what makes a particular design work so well. Simply stated designers use the left (mathematical) sides of their brains to create work that resembles something from the right (artistic) side.
Art is classically something that an artist designates as art, or society has thought culturally important. It’s often, just an idea that had a certain aesthetic or intellectual intent. Its purpose can vary, from being an outlet for personal expression, to attract the human eye, to provide commentary, etc.
A design is typically meant to give an order to an idea or goal, to address problems, and solve them. Designers have to deal with practical real life feasible utility (something that serves a purpose). What sets designers apart is that they must consider function and usefulness in addition to artistic qualities. However, some designers may have no interest or skill in the art and deal strictly with researching or conceptualizing ways to manage an issue through design.
Art does not need to be practical whereas design does. A chair that will be used needs to be designed for the proper purpose. And a chair can be art because it is designated. A person could also make a chair made of sharp spikes and it could be art, but not really the right design for sitting.
For example, a background designer still has to consider practicality within a highly decorative thematic medium. They probably have a plan to conform to certain parameters: such as how the form or pattern may repeat and seamlessness of each strip, what scale makes sense for a wall to be visible in a room, the appropriate subject matter that is suitable for a household or business. They may also think of what is practical from a business perspective. A background isn’t usually considered “fine” art, but the background designer may feel that the design requires forms of art, whether subtle, simplistic, or bold to contrast with the interior space.
So art means a piece that inspires, art means interpretation, art is a taste, art is a talent, art sends a different message to everyone, art is more personal. However, the output seems to produce the same look and feel but the process is what makes the difference in the learning outcome.
While Design is practical in a way that art is not. A design is the “how of a thing”: how to order the parts, how to serve the client’s interests, how to convey the information. Art, on the other hand, has its own end. It is not the utilitarian. It goes parallel to the ordinary usefulness to its own purposes.
To sum up, artists aren’t confined by practical restrictions. Designers may be required to create under certain guidelines that may or may not have artistic components. Artists are concerned about the design itself, they want to make something beautiful in their own way. Designers want to solve problems first, then to make it pretty according to the target and client.