Good Design: Does it Even Exist

The topic of defining design, and more importantly defining good design has been circulating creative communities for decades. But since the death of Steve Jobs in October of 2011, there has been a notable increased interest in the notion of good design by the general population, savvy consumers and industry representatives. With the rising trend where “everyone’s a critic,” the team at Bento Box Design Studio believe now is an interesting time to re-open the “what is good design?” debate.

According to the team over at The New York Times, participants at the Annual World Economic Forum in Davos, defined good design as a process that enabled the system or product to fulfil its function efficiently. The article also reported that in modern times, Environmental Responsibility was a function used to assess whether design fits into the “good” criteria. The article even went so far as to nominate Environmental Sustainability as the primary measure of good design, depending on the target market of the product/system.

But this gives rise to the question, where do aesthetics fit in all of this? Assuming we agree with the opinions listed above, that good design is defined by the efficient solving of a problem. How do we include the usability or feeling a design gives you in its assessment of whether the design is good or bad? These are also important parts in creating a desirable and consumable product.  Depending on who you talk to, these can be THE most important element of good design.

This issue is commonly referred to as the efficiency vs emotion debate, and it is generally agreed that you can’t have one side without the other in good design. As it is clearly explained in the article posted by the Interaction Design Foundation, there is an extremely fine line between good design using aesthetics and design made to look good for aesthetics sake. It is imperative that any aesthetic decisions, add value to the functional elements of the design itself.

Finally, design partner John Maeda of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and, Hugo Sarrazin of McKinsey and Company, discuss in an interview the impact that good design has on business and business functioning. They argue that good design, made up of the perfect balance of function and aesthetics, means nothing without it bringing value to its intended recipient. They posit that, “good design is good business.” Where design can be implemented along the value chain of a company, increasing efficiency or effectiveness of communication or unity of culture and brand and as such can generate value for whichever company is utilising and executing the quality design.

At Bento Box Design Studio we believe that for us, good design communicates its meaning clearly and in a creative way, and in that sense our design delivers on all the other criteria listed above. “Good Design” is an ever changing idea and one that is highly subjective to each individual and as such, we maintain the position of always working with our clients to create value for them. We use our expertise to deliver “good design” in whichever sense adds value to our clients business.

What do you think good design is? Let us know by commenting below. We want to hear from everyone, creatives and non-creatives alike. We all interact with design on a daily basis, so let us know what you think.