100 Design Quotes That Spark Inspiration and Creativity

May 17, 2023

By: Kari Amarnani

100 Design Quotes That Spark Inspiration and Creativity

Quotes about good design are not just words on a page. They are a compilation of experiences. And these design quotes are exactly that.

Creativity is all around you— in your environment, your hobbies, your clothes, the food you eat— it is everywhere. Despite that, it isn’t always easy to see the wonders and beauty of the little things. So, where do you turn for creative inspiration?

All creative souls understand the frustration of a creative block. It often strikes when there are important deadlines or in the middle of the night, where you can’t help but wonder, “How do I recapture my passion for great design?” Inspiration comes in many forms, and it can often seem out of reach when you need it the most.

Reading design quotes is one of the many motivating ways to recall the heart of design. The best quites about good design often comes from the people who have been there done that.

Below is a curated list of 100 thought-provoking design quotes that may ignite your desire to create an amazing design.

100 good design quotes to fuel your inspiration and creativity

1. “Every great design begins with an even better story.” — Lorinda Mamo (designer)

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2. “Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that's why it is so complicated.” — Paul Rand (graphic designer)

3. “Design is as much an act of spacing as an act of marking.” — Ellen Lupton (designer and teacher)

4. “Where you innovate, how you innovate, and what you innovate are design problems.” — Tim Brown (CEO of IDEO)

5. “Good design is good business.” — Thomas Watson Jr. (co-president of IBM)

6. “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (French author and poet)

7. “The more I deal with the work as something that is my own, as something that is personal, the more successful it is.” — Marian Bantjes (designer and author)

8. “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” — Steve Jobs (co-founder of Apple)

9. “Have no fear of perfection— you’ll never reach it.” — Salvador Dalí (artist)

10. “Everything is designed. Few things are designed well.” — Brian Reed (musician and front-end developer)

11. “It’s through mistakes that you actually can grow. You have to get bad in order to get good.” — Paula Scher (graphic designer and painter)

12. “Good design is all about making other designers feel like idiots because that idea wasn’t theirs.” — Frank Chimero (designer)

13. “Design is thinking made visual.” — Saul Bass (graphic designer and filmmaker)

14. “Color does not add a pleasant quality to design— it reinforces it.” — Pierre Bonnard (French painter and illustrator)

15. “No design works unless it embodies ideas that are held common by the people for whom the object is intended.” — Adrian Forty (professor)

16. “Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas, worry about the day they stop.” — Jeffrey Zeldman (web designer and entrepreneur)

17. “Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future.” — Robert Peters (graphic designer and educator)

18. “Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.” — Pablo Picasso (artist)

19. “Design is as much a matter of finding problems as it is solving them.” — Bryan Lawson (architect)

20. “Bad design shouts at you. Good design is the silent seller.” — Shane Meendering (designer)

21. “Good design begins with honesty, asks tough questions, comes from collaboration and from trusting your intuition.” — Freeman Thomas (industrial designer for Porsche)

22. “When typography is on point, words become images.” — Shawn Lukas (artist and designer)

23. “People don’t use a product because of the great design; great design helps them use the product.” — Viran Anuradha Dayaratne (designer)

24. “A user interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not that good.” — Martin LeBlanc (designer)

25. “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” — Steve Jobs (co-founder of Apple)

26. “It’s very easy to be different, but very difficult to be better.” — Jonathan Ive (architect)

27. “To create a memorable design you need to start with a thought that’s worth remembering.” — Thomas Manss (German graphic designer)

28. “The alternative to good design is bad design, not no design at all.” — Douglas Martin (author)

29. “A good designer finds an elegant way to put everything you need on a page. A great designer convinces you half that shit is unnecessary.” — Mike Monteiro (co-founder of Mule Design)

30. “It’s art if it can’t be explained. It’s fashion if no one asks for an explanation. It is design if it doesn’t need explanation.” — Wouter Stokkel (designer)

31. “I strive for two things in design: simplicity and clarity. Great design is born of those two things.” — Lindo Leader (designer and creator of the FedEx logo)

32. “The function of design is letting design function.” — Micha Commeren (designer)

33. “Design adds value faster than it adds costs.” — Joel Spolsky (creator of Trello)

34. “Design is where science and art break even.” — Robin Mathew (designer)

35. “Design is in everything we make, but it’s also between those things. It’s a mix of craft, science, storytelling, propaganda, and philosophy.” — Erik Adigard (designer)

36. “Art is solving problems that cannot be formulated before they have been solved. The shaping of the question is part of the answer.” — Pete Hein (architect)

37. “I’m convinced that without bad design, the world would be a far less stimulating place; we would have nothing to marvel over and nothing to be nostalgic about.” — Carrie Phillips (model)

38. “Just because something looks good doesn’t mean it’s useful. And just because something is useful does not make it beautiful.” — Joshua Brewer (co-founder of Abstract)

39. “Simplicity carried to an extreme becomes elegance.” Jon Franklin (writer)

40. “What works good is better than what looks good, because what works good lasts.” — Ray Eames (designer)

41. “Truly elegant design incorporates top-notch functionality into a simple, uncluttered form.” — David Lewis (industrial designer)

42. “There are three responses to a piece of design: yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.” — Milton Glaser (graphic designer)

43. “No masterpiece was ever created by a lazy artist.” — Salvador Dalí (artist)

44. “Design is a solution to a problem; art is a question to a problem.” — John Maeda (designer and executive)

45. “Design is the body language of your marketing. Don’t slouch.” — Mark King (musician)

46. “Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent.” — Joe Sparano (graphic designer)

47. “Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous.” — Bill Moyers (journalist)

48. “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” — Maya Angelou (poet and activist)

49. “If you can design one thing, you can design everything.” — Massimo Vignelli (Italian designer)

50. “Intent not followed by action is an insult to your design. Decide what you want, create a plan, and get your ass out there!” — Steve Maraboli (writer)

51. “Designing a product is designing a relationship.” — Steve Rogers (graphic designer)

52. “Design is an opportunity to continue telling the story, not just to sum everything up.” — Tate Linden (marketing consultant)

53. “The dumbest mistake is viewing design as something you do at the end of the process to ‘tidy up’ the mess, as opposed to understanding it’s a ‘day one’ issue and part of everything.” — Tom Peterson (television personality)

54. “Thinking about design is hard, but not thinking about it can be disastrous.” — Ralph Caplan (design consultant and writer)

55. “Design that mimics the sensual continuity of nature's subtle connections of color, light, and texture invite the viewer's receptivity.” — Maggie Macnab (logo designer)

56. “As a designer, you have to think in time and see things in sequence. You have to see information as a narrative form.” — Paul Mijksenaar (designer and author)

57. “Art is self-centered. Design is user-centered.” — Mario Maruffi (product designer)

58. “Design is action at a distance.” — Robin Evans (architect)

59. “Look deep into your user problem, and you will design better.” — Mario Maruffi (product designer)

60. “Design is intelligence made visible.” — Alina Wheeler (author)

61. “Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ballpark. Aim for the company of immortals.” — David Ogilvy (advertising tycoon, known as the "Father of Advertising")

62. “Design is the intermediary between information and understanding.” — Hans Hoffman (artist and teacher)

63. “Design is a formal response to a strategic question.” — Mariona Lopez (business owner)

64. “Good design is like a refrigerator— when it works, no one notices, but when it doesn’t, it sure stinks.” — Irene Au (designer)

65. “Digital design is like painting, except the paint never dries.” — Neville Brody (graphic designer)

66. “Design transcends agenda. It speaks to the politics of optimism.” — Paul Bennett (author and typographer)

67. “Get rid of everything that is not essential to making a point.” — Christoph Niemann (graphic designer and illustrator)

68. “Whitespace is like air: it is necessary for the design to breathe.” — Wojciech Zieliński (director and filmmaker)

69. “People ignore designs that ignore people.” — Frank Chimero (designer)

70. “You don’t have to be ‘a creative’ to be creative.” — Drory Ben-Menachem (product designer)

71. “To design is much more than simply to assemble, to order, or even to edit: it is to add value and meaning, to illuminate, to simplify, to clarify, to modify, to dignify, to dramatize, to persuade, and perhaps even to amuse. To design is to transform prose into poetry.” — Paul Rand (graphic designer)

72. “Where do new ideas come from? The answer is simple: differences. Creativity comes from unlikely juxtapositions.” — Nicholas Negroponte (architect)

73. “You don’t think your way to creative work. You work your way to creative thinking.” — George Nelson (industrial designer)

74. “Design everything on the assumption that people are not heartless or stupid but marvelously capable, given the chance.” — John Chris Jones (Welsh designer)

75. “Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.” — John Maeda (designer and executive)

76. “Design is more important than technology in most consumer applications.” — Dave McClure (entrepreneur)

77. “Practice safe design: Use a concept.” — Petrula Vrontikis (creative director of Vrontikis Design Office)

78. “Great design is a multi-layered relationship between human life and its environment.” — Naoto Fukasawa (Japanese industrial designer)

79. “Design isn’t crafting a beautiful textured button with breathtaking animation. It’s figuring out if there’s a way to get rid of the button altogether.” — Edward Tufte (statistician and artist)

80. “Curiosity about life in all its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.” — Leo Burnett (advertising executive)

81. “Here is one of the few effective keys to the design problem: the ability of the designer to recognize as many of the constraints as possible; his willingness and enthusiasm for working within these constraints.” — Charles Eames (designer and architect)

82. “Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.” — Jeffrey Zeldman (web designer and entrepreneur)

83. “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” — Sir Ken Robinson (British author and public speaker)

84. “An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail." — Dr. Edwin Land (scientist and inventor)

85. “Design is the search for a magical balance between business and art; art and craft; intuition and reason; concept and detail; playfulness and formality; client and designer; designer and printer; and printer and public.” — Valerie Pettis (typographer)

86. “Typography is to literature as musical performance is to composition: an essential act of interpretation, full of endless opportunities for insight or obtuseness.” — Robert Bringhurst (poet and typographer)

87. “Design is more than just a few tricks to the eye. It’s a few tricks to the brain.” — Neville Brody (graphic designer)

88. “The truth is, it’s not the idea, it’s never the idea, it’s always what you do with it.” — Neil Gaiman (author)

89. “Rules are what the artist breaks; the memorable never emerged from a formula.” — Bill Bernbach (creative director)

90. “Typography needs to be audible. Typography needs to be felt. Typography needs to be experienced.” — Helmut Schmid (typographer)

91. “That’s the great secret of creativity. You treat ideas like cats: You make them follow you.” — Ray Bradbury (author and screenwriter)

92. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” — Leonardo da Vinci (artist)

93. “The key to great ideas is not having them, it is executing them. And great ideas come from problems. As designers we call problems briefs, and we call reactions to problems concepts.” — Kate Moross (graphic designer)

94. “Work for money, design for love.” — Issey Miyake (Japanese fashion designer)

95. “Graphic design is the paradise of individuality, eccentricity, heresy, abnormality, hobbies, and humor.” — George Santayana (philosopher and poet)

96. “I don’t want something special. I want something beautifully plain.” — Anne Lamott (writer and activist)

97. “Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.” — Steve Jobs (co-founder of Apple)

98. “If you are to create something powerful and important, you must at the very least be driven by an equally powerful inner force.” — Ryan Holiday (author and PR strategist)

99. “Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context – a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.” — Eero Saarinen (architect)

100. “The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.” – Carl Jung (psychoanalyst)

Conclusion: Good Design Quotes

Inspiration can come and go, but the best thing you can do is continue pushing and making your designs come alive. Mistakes are part and parcel of the experience, and they contribute to your overall creativity.

There is one last good design quote to leave you with.

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”

Don’t wait for that spark to come to you— you have to allow it to find you.

Hopefully, these design quotes helped you find the creativity in you. Whether it’s a digital design, illustrations, logos— every bit of inspiration helps you to the finished product where you can proudly say, “This is mine, and it works.”

What are you waiting for? Give it a try! Make the beautiful designs in your head a reality.

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