Have you ever wondered why some items you own are just “better” than other items? I’m sure you have, it’s all about good design. What makes a design good?
- is innovative
- makes a product useful
- is aesthetic
- helps us to understand a product
- is unobtrusive
- is honest
- is durable
- is consequent to the last detail
- is concerned with the environment
- is as little design as possible
>> Back to purity, back to simplicity
This list has been around for a long time, and was put to paper by Dieter Rams. An industrial designer closely related to Braun. His designs were so good, that the first iPod was even inspired by it. Now Apple products, being somewhat of a fashion statement, need to have a good design obviously. And if Apple gets its inspiration from this guy, you know it must be good.
But these design points can be applied to all fields in life and to life itself. Let’s have a closer look:
Life is a constant development, and staying with the old ways while there are better ways these days seems a bit strange. Yet a lot of people keep doing things like they always have because they “just work”. Emphasis on the “just” seems to apply here. As long as it’s still functioning, let’s not fiddle with it.
The same goes for blog design, business models, professions. As long as it’s not a complete failure we keep mucking about as if persistence alone will get us where we want to be.
I say, innovate! If what you are doing right now doesn’t work. Take a good hard look at the current playing field and get back in the game. Even if it means that you have to abandon all that you’ve done before and head of in an entirely new direction.
How often do you think “I wonder what I’m actually contributing”? I’ve asked myself this question quite often with my blog and didn’t feel like I was actually adding something. (Hence the infrequent postings) But every once in a while there is something that you can do that will be of use. For yourself or for another. To often we find ourselves in a situation we’d rather not be in, but don’t do anything to get out of it.
Do something useful for a change. Or, if you want to change, you’d have a good chance of succeeding if you did something useful. Think about it for a moment, what could you do right now that would actually be useful. That would help you design your life the way you wanted it to be?
The best designs are often those that not only do what they are supposed to, but do so elegantly without to much useless frills. In a website design, you want to have a clear and singular message being broadcast. Everyone that visits your site will be influenced by the look and feel of your site.
But even more important, you will be influenced by the look and feel. If you are not happy with the design of your site, it will have a bad influence on you and you’d rather not visit it or work on it, just because it doesn’t feel good.
The same goes for life. You have an idea on how you want to be perceived and you likely also have an idea on who you want to be. Dress the part, behave the part, en do so elegantly.
This is so easy, it’s damn hard. Look at an old VCR, so many buttons on there people didn’t understand how to use one. The same actually still goes for modern computers and software. Have you ever looked at something like Photoshop? There are dozens if not hundreds of buttons you can click and without a descent study of the manual, you’d be hard pressed to even just resize and image.
I’m not saying Photoshop is bad design (or maybe I am) it’s just that builders tend to forget to look at what they are building from a customer perspective. Because they understand the workings, they assume everyone knows. This is one of the reasons so many IT projects fail.
Taking a look at a website, you might be overwhelmed by banners, buttons, icons and whatnot. This makes it very unclear to users what the deal is.
If you look at yourself, are you clear about what your deal is? What are you about? Are you singular in this or are you all over the map because you actually don’t know what you want? Here’s a quick assignment: In 100 words or less: What are you all about? I’d love to read all about you in the comment section. If you can’t tell others, how do you know for yourself?
Let me give you a hint: It’s the complete opposite of the average promotional flyer. Good design does what it’s supposed to without being to obvious and in your face. It leaves you the room to express yourself rather then being identified with the object.
For example: A huge firetruck-red coffee maker with speed fins and a chrome grill. Put one in your kitchen and it will take over, being the focal point of everything and drawing attention away from what matters most: you.
Don’t hide behind all kinds of clever gimmicks and facades. Be yourself, and express yourself through your actions. Don’t scream for attention, that’s not the kind of attention you want anyway. It may be there, but it’s short-lived and likely of the negative sort.
Honesty, something very dear to me in my daily investigations into Being. In design, it’s about making a thing such that it doesn’t appear more powerful than it is or giving it the impression of being very valuable when it’s actually not. It is exactly what you see, nothing more and nothing less.
Faking it until you make it isn’t something you want to be doing. Learn to simultaneously get what you want and be happy with what you have. Be honest with yourself about this though. There is a lot people tell you you need, which clearly isn’t what you actually want.
Also, be honest to others about who you are. About your intentions and motivations. Who are you?
I’m writing this blogpost on an almost four year old laptop (thinkpad X61s). But because of it’s design you wouldn’t know that. Okay the 4:3 screen size might give it away but other than that, it’s almost timeless. Good design is often the opposite of the latest trends. Granted, minimalism has a lot to do with it. What’s not there can’t age.
If you want to learn a new skill think for a moment why you want to learn this. Is it because you’ve seen someone else do it and you thought it was cool so now you want to do it too? In ten years from now, will you still want to do it? Is traveling the world and writing for a blog you see yourself doing for years to come? Or is it just a fad you’ll stop with in a few months.
Every day you get older, every day you go to bed, you’ve spent another day of your life. What are you doing right now that will get you where you really want to be? Be durable, don’t follow the trends. Ask yourself “Will this matter next year?”
Leave nothing to chance. Every detail does matter and spending time to get it right will help you in the long run. Sure, it will take more time but you’ll have something that is right, right down to the last little detail.
This follows naturally from honesty. If you know exactly where you’re going, you’ll be single-minded about it. But to get this one right, obviously you’ll need to know where you’re going.
Being consequent is being about respecting yourself.
This – to me – is one of the big benefits of being a minimalist. Take care of your personal surroundings and provide as little visual and environmental pollution as possible. If you’re a blogger, keep track of what you put out there. There is more than enough bad content out there already.
I don’t want to sound harsh, but if you’re not writing excellent content that people want to read, please don’t bother. Don’t clutter the Internet more than it already is.
In your life, stop contributing to all the (mental) crap you’re hauling around everywhere. And most certainly don’t project it onto others. Drop it all, get rid of it and start enjoying a cleaner environment.
As little design as possible. Concentrate on the essentials and don’t burden yourself with the non-essentials. What is essential to you? How do you want to design your life? Again, be honest.
Design your life the way you want it to be, but be sure that it’s proper design. You’ll be better off in the long run and challenged to get it right, right now. It’s not the easiest way of doing things, but it will last you a lifetime.
I’ll finish this blogpost with words I’ve already written at the top, but they are important so read them again:
Back to purity, back to simplicity