Good thoughts on good design
We love to talk about design. Good design. And yes, that's no news to you people. But what exactly does good design mean to us?
That's a question we've been asking ourselves quite often in the past weeks. And, well — as you also know — we love to share our thoughts with you. So, let's take a look at what good design is or has to be for us (us being Leander, Malte, Anja, Jasmin and Franzi).
Leander – Founder & Product Designer
Almost everyone knows the 10 essential principles of good design by Dieter Rams. We love, follow and use them every design day, too. Which is why Leander wanted to take the question "what is good design?" differently. At least a bit, for he also finds those 10 principles indispensable.
So, when talking about good design with Leander, he said: "The most important part of good design is that it has to be obvious." His example: a good, old ball pen. What makes it so obvious? "Well, first of all, you will probably know that it's a pen. Something to write with. Given by it's special design, you will know which end is the front and which is the back, you will know how to hold it in order to write. And even when having some specials like a cap, rotation mechanism or a press stud, you will know what to do to get ready to write."
To him, good design needs neither explanations, nor handbooks or rules. You will immediately know what to do with it, once you see, feel and experience it.
Anja – Product Designer
According to Anja, good design has to be timeless. Clear lines, simple forms, a certain modesty and calmness. For her, the timeless nature of its product is the most crucial part about it, easily leading to another cornerstone: Longevity, guaranteed by top-quality materials and a subtle design that one simply cannot get enough of.
Based on timelessness and longevity, aesthetics, functionality and innovation are also aspects that Anja finds essential to good design. Just like that, she also thinks that applications and products have to be so easy to use that they will smoothly retreat to the background. Anja loves when things naturally blend into the environment, creating a soothing harmony for eye and soul.
In general, Anja is a huge fan of Scandinavian design. An example she loves is the brand String. To her, it is a timeless classic as all of their products adapt themselves discreetly in space and furnishings without being too loud and intrusive.
Malte – Creative Director
For Malte, the comprehensibility of a product is the most relevant aspect when talking about good design. A product or application that is easy to scan, read, follow and use. Something that helps us save time rather than eating it up by making us struggle and look for understanding.Just like that, Malte finds that good design should always solve a problem. Design needs to be functional, even when looking neat and beautiful. He doesn't like the thought of creating something just for the sake of it but to make something that is actually helpful throughout people's everyday lives. Speaking of, good design should be versatile and support different kinds of usage.
Of course, Malte loves to give an example to his thoughts: this minimalistic and timeless mug by tōki ton. It is clean and subtle, without any loud logos, signs or elements, naturally blending into any hand. It's formal language is as minimalistic as possible, however giving essential character to the mug. And even though he loves using it for his daily dose of coffee, one can also use it for soups, cereals, nuts or any other kind of drinks. It is quite easy to understand as one will know how to hold, clean and use it.
Franzi – Content & Copywriting
Having had "only" a journalistic and spiritual background at first, Franzi is learning a lot about design at Studio Lenzing, which she absolutely adores. After a while, she learned to distinguish between good and bad designs and subconsciously drew up a mental catalogue for good design on her own.
For her, good design has to make life both easier and a lot more fun. Even more, good design should make her feel good. Fulfilling her run to minimalism, structure and beauty, good design should also sooth body and mind and be rather subtle and down-to-earth. At the same time, good design should always tell some sort of a story, be it a little or a big one.
Her example for good design: a book. "A book is something I can experience with my hands, it's beautiful and useful, makes me feel good, it's compact and stores a lot of wisdom or a story that moves me. So many words and thoughts and worlds poured into letters, words and sentences. Outwardly, a book might seem inconspicuous, but everyone knows how a book can change and improve a life. Besides, books have been part of this human journey ever since the 5th century A.D." Moreover, the general concept and idea of a book is always the same, yet the individual design can vary from any color, loudness, weight and feeling - just however the storyteller wishes to visually wrap up his:her narrative.
Jasmin – UX Researcher
As UX researcher, Jasmin gets to see the effects and obstacles of good and bad design immediately. To her, the functionality and aesthetics are substantial for good design. But, more importantly than that, a product should always be self-explanatory. No matter if it's a physical product or a digital application, people should always know and understand the function and use of it. Talking about the aesthetics of a product, she loves anything simple, subtle and clean. Yet, she also thinks and knows that the aesthetic senses of anyone vary due to personal preferences. Which makes the simplicity and modesty of a product even more important.
When asking Jasmin to provide an example for good design, she did not have to think for long. This glass kettle by Menu simply meets all her criteria on good design. It is clean, timeless, easy to use and will make the process of tea making an act of pure joy.
What matters to you
Speaking of, we also did a little instagram poll to see what you people love and find crucial to good design. Here is a selection of our favorite answers:
Good design is:
- as little design as possible
- follows form & function
- can answer & solve a great "why"
- the amount of empathy thrown at solving the actual problem
- emotional & functional
- changes the world (even a little bit)
- a connection between client & creator
- charms your eyes
Speaking of, we do know that we are home in the world of digital design. Nevertheless, we truly enjoy and get a lot of inspiration from any design of the ordinary things and the UX of the real world. This is exactly why most of the examples mentioned are coming from the industrial design bubble, because we know and see how much we can learn from it.
Whew, okay, what a read. Thanks for keeping up until here, we hope you had a good time and also found yourself thinking about good design criteria. Feel free to share them with us we love a good, open dialogue.