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Architecture vs Design: The Difference Explained

 , April 26, 2016 updated on May 23, 2017
Architecture is a plan for the structure of something. Design is a plan to create something.
An easy way to think about the difference between architecture and design is to consider the architecture of an office building as compared with its interior design. The architecture provides structures such as rooms, stair cases and basic services such as water and heating, ventilation and air conditioning. The interior design provides the interior materials, decorations & art, flooring, furniture and additional services such as coffee stations and kitchens.

Architecture vs Design

A design is a plan to build something. Architecture is essentially a type of design that deals only with structure.
Definitions: Architecture & Designs
Architecture A plan for the structure of something.
DesignA plan to create something.

Logical Relationships

An architecture is typically intended to be used by multiple designs. The following logical relationships exist between the two.
Logic Relationships: Architecture & Designs
Is-aArchitecture is a type of design.
SupportArchitecture supports design.
AlignmentDesign aligns with architecture.
UsesDesign uses architecture.

Abstract vs Concrete

Architecture is focused on abstract structures such as rooms that support a wide range of designs. Design is more concrete with entities such as a meeting room designed for a particular organization.
Level of Abstraction
Architecture Architecture focuses on abstractions that can be used by multiple designs.
DesignDesign is a concrete plan to build something specific.


Both architecture and design are broad practices. The following are a few examples of each.
Architecture Building Architecture
Enterprise Architecture
Business Architecture
Information Architecture
Data Architecture
Technical Architecture
Animation Architecture
Brand Architecture
DesignInterior Design
Visual Design
User Interface Design
Web Design
Experience Design
Graphic Design
Industrial Design
Product Design
Sustainable Design
Information Design
Organizational Design
Technology Design


This is the complete list of articles we have written about technology.
Accelerating Change
Advanced Technology
Affective Computing
Arch. Technology
Artificial Intelligence
Big Data
Business Technology
Calm Technology
Consumer Technology
Creative Destruction
Cultural Lag
Digital Convergence
Dyson Sphere
Economic Change
Event Processing
Existential Risk
Farm Robots
4th Industrial Revolution
Future Technology
Grey Goo
High-Speed Rail
Hyperbolic Growth
Information Age
Information Security
Internet Of Things
IT Examples
Low Technology
Machine Biases
Moores Law
Neural Network
Passive Design
Personal Technology
Pervasive Game
Precautionary Principle
Predictive Analytics
Progress Trap
Reputation Systems
Robot Highways
Single Point Of Failure
Smart Glass
Sunlight Transport
Swarm Intelligence
Technological Change
Technological Singularity
Technology Culture
Technology Design
Technology Economics
Technology Env
Technology Forces
Technology Theory
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