Call me Cassandra:
The way that industry incorporates design systems is basically a misappropriation, or abuse at worst. It is not just me who is seeing the problem with ongoing industrialization in design. Even Brad Frost, the inventor of atomic design, is expressing similar concerns. In the words of Jeremy Keith:
[…] Design systems take their place in a long history of dehumanising approaches to manufacturing like Taylorism. The priorities of “scientific management” are the same as those of design systems—increasing efficiency and enforcing consistency.
So no. It is not just you. We all feel it. This quote is from 2020, by the way. What was then a prediction has since become a reality.
This grim assessment is well worth a read. It rings very true.
What could have become Design Systemics, in which we applied systems theory, cybernetics, and constructivism to the process and practice of design, is now instead being reduced to component libraries. As a designer, I find this utter nonsense. Everyone who has even just witnessed a design process in action knows that the deliverable is merely a documenting artifact of the process and does not constitute it at all. But for companies, the “output” is all that matters, because it can be measured; it appeals to the industrialized process because it scales. Once a component is designed, it can be reused, configured, and composed to produce “free” iterations without having to consult a designer. The cost was reduced while the output was maximized. Goal achieved!