What about decorative design, isn't that art?

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What about decorative design, isn't that art?

From Brian K. Yoder

Published before 2005


Q: What about decorative design, isn't that art?

No. Design and decoration can be wonderful and excellent things, but they are not art per se. One thing that can sometimes complicate this is that design and decoration can sometimes include works of art inside them (for example, a wallpaper might include images of an artistic painting as one of its elements, or an interior designer might hang a work of art on a wall as part of his design of a room), but that doesn't make the design a work of art any more than a frame that contains a painting is a work of art merely because it surrounds one. The purpose of design and decoration is to embellish something to make it more useful, pleasing, or attractive. This is true whether we are talking about rugs, flatware, wallpaper, or furniture. The purpose of art is not embellishment, but expression in its own right, and that's the core of the difference between the two.

Don't get me wrong, I think that decoration and design are wonderful things, and I am very much interested in them, but they are a different kind of thing than art is even though they may be created using some similar skills.