For lack of a better idea, what if we start by defining what we are talking about? According to the 20 volume online Oxford English Dictionary (OED, 2nd Ed.)

design n.

I. A mental plan.

    1. a. A plan or scheme conceived in the mind and intended for subsequent execution; the preliminary conception of an idea that is to be carried into effect by action; a project.

    b. ‘A scheme formed to the detriment of another’ (J.); a plan or purpose of attack upon or on.

    2. a. In weaker sense: Purpose, aim, intention.

    b. = Intention to go. (Cf. DESIGN v. 13.)

    c. phr. by ({dag}out of, on, upon) design: on purpose, purposely, intentionally.

    3. The thing aimed at; the end in view; the final purpose.

    4. Contrivance in accordance with a preconceived plan; adaptation of means to ends; pre-arranged purpose; spec. used in reference to the view that the universe manifests Divine forethought and testifies to an intelligent Creator (the argument from design).

    5. In a bad sense: Crafty contrivance, hypocritical scheming; an instance of this. Cf. DESIGNING ppl. a. 2. arch.

    II. A plan in art.

    6. A preliminary sketch for a picture or other work of art; the plan of a building or any part of it, or the outline of a piece of decorative work, after which the actual structure or texture is to be completed; a delineation, pattern.

    7. a. The combination of artistic details or architectural features which go to make up a picture, statue, building, etc.; the artistic idea as executed; a piece of decorative work, an artistic device.

    b. transf. of literary work in this and prec. sense.

    8. The art of picturesque delineation and construction; original work in a graphic or plastic art.
  arts of design: those in which design plays a principal part, such as painting, sculpture, architecture, engraving. school of design: a school in which the arts of design are specially taught.

    9. attrib. and Comb., as design book, consultant, engineer; design-conscious a. (see CONSCIOUS a. 12).

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