What is great design?

To follow the topic on design of the previous post, here’s something from Paper magazine’s April 2010 issue that we’d like to share with you guys. An excerpt from The Style of Now, the title of the essay by Kim Hastreiter in her column Note of Kim, it’s something that should come in handy to us designers as we go about our work, whether as a form of reminder or inspiration. In the essay, Hastreiter talks about industrial designer Dieter Rams (the designer of the Braun calculator and the square-shaped alarm clock, to name a few)’s idea of design. She quotes Rams, “Good design avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashion design, it lasts many years—even in today’s throwaway society.”

Hastreiter expounds more on the topic of course; to read what she has to say, get a copy of Paper’s April 2010 issue, or check out their website to see if they have it online. But for now, the part we want to share, which is actually more of the sidebar they featured than an excerpt of the essay itself:

Dieter Rams’s Ten Principles of Design
(Russnino’s note: these refer mainly to product design, bearing in mind the Rams is an industrial designer. Nonetheless, it gives us insight as to what graphic designers too can do to put that iconic stamp on their work.)

1. Good design is innovative: The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.

2. Good design makes a product useful: A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.

3. Good design is aesthetic: The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products we use every day affect our person and our well-being. But only well executed objects can be beautiful.

4. Good design makes a product understandable: It clarifies a product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product talk. At best, it’s self-explanatory.

5. Good design is unobstrusive: Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.

6. Good design is honest: It does not make a product more innovative, powerful, or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.

7. Good design is long lasting: It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years—even in today’s throwaway society.

8. Good design is thorough, down to the last detail: Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect toward the consumer.

9. Good design is environmentally friendly: Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.

10. Good design is as little design as possible: Less, but better—because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Taken from Paper magazine, April 2010 issue, Note From Kim column by Kim Hastreiter, pp. 78-79

The Importance of Simplicity

Our opportunity, as designers, is to learn how to handle the complexity, rather than shy away from it, and to realize that the big art of design is to make complicated things simple.
— Tim Parsey

We were browsing the Internet for design inspiration with quotes on design. One of the quotes’ recurring theme is the importance of simplicity in design, and upon realizing that, we also realized that as important as it is, it is also an often-forgotten rule.

Truly elegant design incorporates top-notch functionality into a simple, uncluttered form.
— David Lewis

Simplicity doesn’t equate to plainness. It merely connotes a thorough understanding of the information at hand and its purpose, and indicates this through a clear visualization of it.

Simplicity is clarity. When something is stated simply, its manner of information is clearer, and when information is presented clearly, it is transmitted more quickly. And in this day and age of the Internet, anything that can be absorbed or devoured in a snap is of profitable value.

A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
— Antoine de Saint Exupéry

One must certainly incorporate it in their routine to double check whether their design is of the simplest form possible, without sacrificing exquisite aesthetic. Here are some ways to do that:

1. Revise, edit, and shorten your text. This refers to headlines, titles, and section names. This also applies to text, but remember not to sacrifice clarity for word count. The key is to be concise, and straight to the point.

2. Make use of shapes. Mickey Mouse—with his large circle of a face in the middle, and two smaller ones on the upper right and left for his ears—is iconic because he is designed in such a way that enables people to easily remember how he looks like by the shape of his head. When designing graphics, especially logos, focus on simple, basic shapes and their harmony together. This allows for easier recall, and perhaps increased recognition of the design itself.

3. You only have room for what is necessary. This is important to remember. Everything that does not add to your website’s aesthetic or to the site’s information, cut it out. It is unnecessary, and you only have room for what is necessary.

That said, it’s important to discern what is necessary. Aesthetic is necessary, and so are certain pieces of information, so do not cut those out. Instead, consider the most important aspects of your client’s website, and play those up. If something is generic, or doesn’t necessarily add or help achieve a certain purpose, or is assumed or part of public knowledge, then you may decide not to include those. It’s all a matter of being concise and direct to the point, while still being visually arresting.

Design is an opportunity to continue telling the story, not just to sum everything up.
— Tate Linden Quotes

Source: http://designwashere.com/80-inspiring-quotes-about-design/