I love things that speak for themselves. I think it’s beautiful when someone looks at a work of art or listens to a piece of music and can say that it’s beautiful without knowing exactly why.
Quality design not only speaks but communicates in a way that exposes the intentions of the creator. I recognize that design in many forms is a discipline or occupation. There are graphic designers, industrial designers, furniture designers etc., but in this post I’m going a little more granular and speaking about design as a fundamental piece of the way I perceive the world.
A definition for design that I love is …
“purpose, planning, or intention that exists or is thought to exist behind an action, fact, or material object.”
This definition really informs my personal blurb on design located on my home page that states:
“Design is my measure of purpose. Attention to detail communicates intentionality.”
Intentions are important to me. When I’m deciphering information, I process about 30% through the filter of “what was actually said” and 70% through the filter of how it was said. I believe the choice in how things are expressed reveals more authenticity than what exactly was said in a many cases.
Design and my faith
I’m a non-denominational Christian. In my personal faith views, the order of existence stems from God. The first verse of the Bible starts with, “In the beginning, God created…”
This statement means a lot to me. It communicates intentionality. God decided to create all that we have to behold… on purpose. What we perceive in this world is not just a fluke. The fact that all the people who are reading this are so different, but at the same time so similar is on purpose. The way the world is comprised of thousands of complex systems that harmoniously integrate and rely on each other is most likely the best example of design we have the joy of attempting to comprehend. It all just works. And my logical brain that wants to understand and dissect why it works always fails when it comes to taking in nature. At the end of my understanding I find true beauty in what I see.
Design and logic
Good design to me has some type of order or composition. Even in the most complex and chaotic systems in the world there is an order. There’s a process. This is one thing I greatly appreciate about design.
I really enjoy this because I’m a planner. I like to know what’s going on and when and why we’re doing things a certain way. I wish I was more spontaneous. To be honest I am spontaneous… I just like to plan so I can prepare myself to be spontaneous ;). Logic refers to there being “a way” to understand or perceive certain things. The types of design I appreciate the most is when the thing I’m interacting with is so well designed that I can’t explain why it works. It’s almost intrinsically pleasing. To achieve this there’s a great deal of thought that goes into how something is created and developed, as well as how someone interacting with that something will go about experiencing it. When these processes compliment each other I believe it results in a quality product or experience.
Design and art
The art lens can be so tricky these days. Everyone has an opinion on what qualifies and what doesn’t as art. To me… for something to be defined as art it has to evoke emotion. I believe that the artistic qualities of design that evoke emotion can range from subtle and subconscious to outright bombarding and offensive. An example of the subtle variety being how certain typefaces make you feel certain ways about whatever word is in text.
I believe good design holds the audience as top priority. This can be seen so vividly in the story of the Apple corporation’s rise to dominance. Steve Jobs and the Apple team were constantly thinking about the user. The products they created are meticulously designed to enhance the connection between the user and their goals. The way that an Apple user can pick up almost any Apple product and find their way around intuitively is a testament to Apple’s commitment to user-centric design.
I stated earlier in this post that “design speaks”. I truly believe that good design says so much without needing to be explained. Good design has inherent qualities that create connection because there’s purpose and quality behind its manifestation. I believe these underlying observations around design govern my standard of quality. Whether it’s a well built pair of denim jeans, or an artfully crafted website, the end product resounds the heart and mind of a creator that values deep levels of connection and communication that go beyond explanation.