Monthly Archives: February 2014

Design, More than a pretty phase

Snow is falling fast outside the windows at our New Ground officeThe snow is falling fast outside the windows of our office in the Hooker-Dunham building (the name of which sounds like the plot twist in a Law & Order episode, but I digress). This is the part of this design-focused blog where I talk about how beautiful the snow swirls are and how the random movement of the flakes inspires some wondrous creation. That is, however, exactly not what I was thinking.

I’m looking at the windows more than out of them.

It seems like the single pane of glass is simply not up to the job of keeping out the cold. On the other hand, I love that there is so much glass rather than well-insulated, but utterly opaque, window quilts. Looking further though, the windows are built to slide up, one in front of the other, so you can open them and, moreover, the top one is the more outside of the two so that neither snow nor rain seeps in through the top of the lower one.

“Um, like, yeah I know,” you might say, but someone came up with that. In other words, there was a time in which that wasn’t a given. Think about the designs around you that define the way we understand and interact with things. The handle on a mug. The “image of a keyboard” approach of most current smartphones rather than the tiny keyboard of the original blackberries. The arrow embedded in the FedEx logo. Heck, your mailbox with it’s little red flag that means there’s mail to be picked up (funny trivia: in most countries, the mail carriers only drop off, they don’t pick up).

The key here is that design isn’t exclusively about something being pretty. People use the word “elegant” with design because, at it’s best, it’s about efficiency and usefulness and meeting a need. You will be shocked if you really look at the things around you right now and think about the fact that someone created every detail and did it so beautifully, so elegantly, that you hardly noticed.

Whether it’s a website, or a logo, or a physical thing, that, my friend, is good design.