I go down to my brother Mac's cabin in the woods a few times each month to grill meat, have a beer, watch the stars and visit. He's an amazing sculptor, and we chat about art making, design and anything else that comes to mind. Last time, Mac brought up something that always bothered him when he was in art school:
We would spend weeks working on our sculptures: creating them, refining, and finishing. When the day came to present, we would all put them up and gather around. For each piece, the instructor would ask for folks' comments and we'd go around giving feedback and interpretations. Then the person who made it would talk about their ideas behind the work. So many times, other students would just take what folks had said and call it their concept. I'd cringe because I knew they were just b-s-ing. I always had tons of thoughts about mine and could talk all day. I mean how could you spend so many hours creating something without knowing anything about why you made it?!
I rolled my eyes and said,
Dood, I know. It wasn't that way back in Design School. We always had to present our work, explaining our concept first, then defend it against feedback and criticism. That's why it was called a 'critique.'
A designer should always have a rationale for the work they present, summarizing and explaining the thinking behind the decisions they've made and why the approach is a good one. If a designer can't explain the purpose of each and every element in their solution, and how it supports the goals of the project, then that element ought to be reconsidered. To this day, whenever I present my work to a client, it comes with the full-blown rationale of why I think it fits the bill.