I have always been fascinated by good design. That goes for architecture and especially furniture design, but essentially all products. It always amazes me what a difference design can make. It automatically draws me toward an object, and I can literally look at it, almost stare, for minutes at a time…. When I think about what makes the difference between just an object, and that Eames lounge chair, for example, I have come to the conclusion that to me, design is really about two levels.
On a first level, good design is all about the users wants and needs, the safety, the reliability. In short, this level is all about the function. Does it do what the user expects? This sounds as if this is obvious, but lots of products fail already in this phase. Think about that one connector that is almost impossible to reach. Or the lid on that case that is very hard to close. Or that packaging that is so hard to open, you almost damage the product inside.
The second level is where all the difference is made to me. In comes the emotion. Is the product fun, novel, personal? What happens when you touch it, when you hold it? Does it have the right color, the right texture? The right feel? The right weight?
Things that are, and sometimes feel, beautiful, work better in a way. Let me give you a simple example: Do you ever have that feeling that after you wash your car, it feels like it drives better? That’s what I mean…….
But the most important, the decisive factor to me will always stay: is it easy to use? Is it simple, yet sophisticated?
Simplicity is so hard to reach in design. And yet, it makes all the difference.
It will make the difference between a product really being used. It will mean the difference between enjoying a great product that really feels like it has been designed for you, in stead of something that feels like it has been made for someone else. That is why we care.
In every product, every piece of software, every user interface we design in our group, this is what we try to reach. The right balance between function and simplicity. Which requires listening to our customers. A lot. And endless sessions between our teams if we really need that one button. Or that one weld. Or if the UI needs round or square icons. It will never be easy. We learn by making mistakes. Starting over. We are far from perfect, but we are getting better with every new product. Did you know that we average 8 new product introductions every year? For more than anybody in our industry. So we do get a lot of practice. Sometimes a bit too much, but at least practice makes perfect, right?