I feel like the question isn’t framed quite right… craft is involved in many things, including art and design. To me the separation along a spectrum is between Art and Design as practices, vocations, and focuses.
(I capitalize both words to point out that I’m speaking of them as practices with rich histories, theory, criticism, and community. Not as the general words “art” and “design” which have many applications and implications.)
And it is a spectrum, not a hard line. Or more accurately, spectrums between facets that provide the basis of focus for both the practice/practitioner, the context, and the outcome.
There are also many overlaps between Art and Design practice that create an opportunity to overlap: aesthetics, critical intent, imbuing objects with meaning, politics, production, craft…
In my studies the differences fall along some main areas of focus.
Some primary focuses of Art include:
- asking questions (often unanswerable)
- open to interpretation
- aesthetic at its core
- creating “things” (including actions) that embody ideas
- no central imperative for use/utility in the output/object/action
- central imperative for meaning
Some primary focuses of Design include:
- no central imperative for meaning
- aesthetic as important component
- answers questions
- create “things” (including actions/services/behaviours) that embody Vetruvian ideals (useful, beautiful, strong)
And each of these things can exist on a spectrum, but the core purpose of “creation” is important.
Both an artist and a designer may build a chair. For the artist the purpose of this practice is to ask about what chairs mean, what they imply for their context, and many other potential critical questions. The end result might be a chair, and it might be usable, but it doesn’t have to be and that is not their interest or point of making it.
For a design the point of making a chair is that it is comfortable, beautiful, and well made. If fits in the context where it will exist, and likely there will be a number of them made exactly the same. They may also put into it some criticality about sitting, or the behaviours around a chair and provoke some questions, that that is not their central purpose in creation.
The types or practices, research, theory, and craft that goes into the creation of a similar “thing” (object, activity, event, system…) is quite different from these perspectives.
They could be the same person (I do both things in my work), but the mind set, goals, and outcomes will be very different.
I don’t think this is an artificial construct or wrong headed dichotomy… like I said, it’s a continuum and different practices fall in different places on this spectrum. But art and design are different in their primary goals and the theory, craft, and practice that informs them.