What do we mean by ‘Good Design’

Dinner 2: Friday, September 4th

Roman architect Vitruvius described good design as a combination of ‘firmness, commodity and delight’.

However, is one characteristic more important than another? Is making things cheaper, more efficient and more sustainable more crucial than creating beauty? We have invited 4 designers from a variety of fields to discuss their process and what they perceive to be the most important focus in creating good design.

We invite you to join us in this conversation.

Designers joining us:

Cian & Ahmad from designgoat , http://wearedesigngoat.com/

Scenography designer Lian Bell,  http://lianbell.com/about

Service design Ré Dubhthaigh,  https://www.linkedin.com/pub/r%C3%A9-dubhthaigh/0/876/705

The aim for this dinner event is to explore what we mean by good design. We hope to collect both personal and professional experiences in an attempt to understand the subject more fully.
We would like you to simply think of an example of good design and an example of bad design that you have personally experienced. These can be objects, services, systems, experiences or whatever.
We would also like you to think about non negotiable fact you think of when judging whether it is a good design or bad. For example:
Alice Rawsthorn (design critic for the New York Times ) – when talking about good design she mentions the idea of a non-negotiable fact.  For her, “Whatever it is, and whatever other great qualities it has, it can’t be well designed if it doesn’t do something useful” – thats her non-negotiable fact!
Its clear that the idea of ‘Good Design’ means different things, to different people and in different contexts.
Deyan Sudjic author of ‘The Language of Things’ noted that:
Design seems to be about engineering desire”, that
We buy new kitchens because we dream about the family life they might represent”
He asks therefore if good design is something sinister – the ability to coerce people into wanting it or is it something that can express the spirit and give value to people’s lives?
Arthur Drexler, who was the curator and director of the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, did not collect many pieces of contemporary design as he found their purity of form was often spoilt by purely commercial reasons.
While for some, good design is a verb, not just a noun. Its about identifying problems, discovering solutions and, importantly, making them real.
In the 1980’s Dieter Rams notices that the world around him was become an “impenetrable confusion of form, colour and noises”…so he asked himself “Is my design Good design”. In response he came up with the “10 commandments” of good design.
According to him Good Design should be:
Innovative and make a product useful (functionally, psychologically and aesthetically). It is aesthetic and makes a product understandable – at best self explanatory. Design is unobtrusive-neither decorative nor a work of art and leaves room for users self expression. It is honest, long lasting and thorough. It is environmentally friendly though out its life cycle and ultimately Good Design is as little design as possible.
Here are some links that I found interesting on this subject. There is no pressure to look at them, but they informed my thinking on the subject a little.

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