What is good design for you?

In praise of analogue technologies

All of us are immersed in technologies but when we speak of technology we inevitably jump to the digital varieties. This is unsurprising as these are the new, new things of the day. It’s also unsurprising as we have been taught to be enthralled by shiny technology due to the ways in which Apple has designed and marketed their products.

In addition to this my own views of design and desire is warped by my workplace and research interests. This results in the creating of the idea that design must, almost exclusively, deal with digital technology.

But there is something very limiting in this worldview and I would like to get a better perception of the design of everyday things. One way to go is to read the design books – and I can highly recommend this approach – why not read, for example, Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things.

But I want to go another way and explore design through the things that surround us. We are in a period of design fetishism where good must be expensive and then gets priced that way. So price is involved but I would like to go beyond the dominance of price in looking for, and at, design.

So what I would like is to collect examples of good design with a motivation as to why it is good design. I am not looking for consensus but for stories. So to kick it off I would like to give some examples of good analogue design.

The Barcelona chair – this is a visual object that changes the room in which it is set. It pleases me to sit in it even if other chairs would do the job equally well. It’s affect on me is entwined with my ideas of the chair as well as the object itself.

Good kitchen knives. The balance of a “real” kitchen knife is extremely tactile. It fits and becomes an extension of the hand that uses it. Equally a bad knife makes cooking a chore.

The Merkur razor. At some point I got tired of being owned by Gillette and bought a real old razor with real old razor blades. It’s heavy and does not fit in the hand like the kitchen knife but because of its weight and the risk of cuts turns a boring everyday task into a meditative act. Sure, I may bleed a bit more but the morning ritual is totally different today.

So please let me know, what are your examples of good design?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.