Designers and stylists are synonymous in popular conception–and in the minds of many stylists. The reality, however, is that they aren’t the same at all.
In a previous post I took a stab at visualizing a certain perspective on the cognitive capabilities that distinguish designers from stylists.
Then recently I read Developers are from Mars, Programmers are from Venus on Hacknot which describes a nearly identical situation in software engineering. Developers and programmers are also vastly different, in many of the same ways designers and stylists differ.
Taking this article as a model, here are some of the key difference (some tongue-in-cheek, some entirely serious) between designers and stylists:
|Fussy pixel-perfectionists who delight in the minute decorative details of the artifact||Appreciate the fine details, but understand that they are only a small, occasionally self-indulgent part of what they do|
|Desireability is primary concern||Utility is primary concern|
|Shy away from the business (the goals, the models, the metrics, etc)||The business is like their second job, its success or failure is a key measure of their design work|
|Remains firmly entrenched in their own idiosyncratic subjectivities||Work very hard to get out of their own head, and see the world through their clients’ and users’ eyes|
|Obsessed with what’s cool||Obsessed with what works for clients and users|
|The solution to any business problem is slicker style (especially if they can make it look like an iPod)||Many solutions often need to be knitted together from multiple disciplines, and harmonizing them together can be more difficult than identifying them individually|
|The ego, the icon, the personality, the signature, the rockstar||The market need, the multi-disciplinary team, edge competencies|
|Aesthetics of complexity–what better way to inspire the awe your self-evident superiority deserves||Philosophy of simplicity–what better way to help people achieve their goals, create market value, and turn a tidy profit|
By skill, approach, values and temperament, designers are very different from stylists. And just as the developer can program but the programmer can’t develop, so the designer can style but the stylist cannot design.