Good Design

The Netflix docu-series Abstract: The Art Of Design has been quite something. One of my favourites there is the one that features the Greek photographer Platon.

Perhaps it is my fledgling interest in photography (that has resolutely stayed fledgling). But, I would like to think that it is more than that. I think, it is at the core, the philosophy of design that that I deeply resonate with.

At the end of it, I asked myself ‘what is good design?’

Here are some sponataneous thoughts that emerged.

Good design goes beyond aesthetics. It is a seamless interweave of form and functionality. To get to get to awesome design, you sure need imagination and a certain courage to go beyond immediate feedback.

But at the very core, design to me, is about how much you care.

Design manifests in subtle and obvious ways, when deep empathy and listening beyond what is said is the norm. Good design is often mistaken to be an outcome. It actually is a way of thought. Sure, it looks pretty and feels good. But if you look deeper than that, you would find that the designer ‘cared’!

I liked a couple of lines from the episode with Platon.

“Before a shoot I am not thinking of how can I get a good picture, but what can I learn from this person.”

Taking a picture is very technical, but 99.9% of it is the connection that allows me to reach someone.  And through that connection, there’s just a chance you’re going to feel something too.”

Great design is about connecting with other people. That is something that I am inspired by.  Every single client interaction and consequent solution design is about care and empathy. At least, that’s the endeavour.

The other thing that this flies in the face of is the idea that good design is a function of awesome tools. That’s far from the truth. Sure, tools help. A design that is a function of the tools at hand is where the corrosion of the mind begins.

Good design brings out the human in the other. It evokes an emotion. That’s a function of connections. Be it a photograph, a costume, car or a workshop, good design is a function of how much you really care.

That’s why good design is rare.