A few days ago, I had the chance to participate in a new architectural project by providing my opinion about the house design, and my thoughts about the general style.
Well, we all know that architecture is not what I do for a living, or at least, not for now, but studying design really taught me to focus on details and how things work when I need to analyze things.
Being involved in this project – from the outside – made me start asking questions, like:
- Where does that ceiling go?
- What happens when it rains on that specific part of the house?
- Why is that corner of the house made of glass but two metres outside there is a brick wall, leaving a free space in between without any use?
- What is the advantage of using that material?
- Why does one of the edges of the pool have a space underneath, leaving the entire structure floating in space with nothing below?
These and other questions came to mind as I started to get more and more involved in the final proposal and looked at the design renderings.
By examining those questions, it´s easy to realize that none of the questions had to do with decoration or aesthetics. Even if i say that the wood on the front door is not exactly what I would have selected for that house, the most important thing here is that all my senses were focused on one word: functionality.
This example can be used to explain the differences between a ¨good design¨ vs ¨aesthetic details¨.
In my opinion, a good design satisfies a need, it achieves something in a simple, intuitive way that anyone can use it, no matter the level of knowledge the user has.
Let´s now take another example: those tea or coffee mugs with a silicone sleeve that protects your hand from excessive heat and keeps the mug from slipping out of your hand. If you think about it, that idea is really very simple; so simple – i would say – that you can even think that solution was always there and no one went through the process of thinking and analyzing the problem that existed.
My point here is that, beyond the fact of how cute it is to combine a colorful silicone sleeve with porcelain, what matters the most is what it does: insulates heat and prevents broken mugs.
A good design, has to do with simplicity and how things work. Good design requires all our talent and expertise as a team to get there. I often remind myself that ¨simple does not mean it is easy to get there ¨.
Some examples of good design:
Typography, color schemes, images and graphics are also an important part of our final work, but in this post, i don’t think about them separately, but as part of a holistic system.
What I’m trying to explain here is that the common phrase ¨ let´s add this because it is nice ¨ or ¨ it may not work but I like it¨ does not always help us improve our design.
Therefore, let´s simplify things and look for the best option. Good design many times is a result of simplifying items rather than adding to them.