Monday, January 30, 2006

Throwaway Design

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Joel Spolsky, software pundit of Joel On Software is writing a series of articles on "Great Design." In his most recent article draft he talks about "star" products - his examples include Brad Pitt, the iPod, and the Herman Miller Aeron.

Here is my short rebuttle, not because I think he's wrong, but because I think sometimes good design is boring as ever:

>> It's interesting how iPods and Aerons always come up when it comes to "good design" but no one is crazy enough to talk about Wal Mart and design.

Joel asserted as much himself in his previous article describing design that as a discipline it's focuses on a lot more than the aesthetic.

But one of the things that is impressive to me about good design is invisibility.

Wal-Mart is a perfect, but scandalous example of this. No one wants to bring them up because it's not as chic as, say, an iPod, but when we are honest with ourselves it seems as though this "proletariet" design seems to contact us more than something like an Aeron chair.

How fashionable is it to talk about the design of throw aways, or the design of "just good enough?" I think Visual Basic and Wal-Mart have a lot in common: they touch *everyone* (have a look at the POS (no pun intended) system at the next store you visit and chances are it was written in VB), but they don't jump to the front of one's mind when they think of (capital D) Design.

Is the Wal Mart throwaway an excellent example of design?

Okay, how about this for a change of direction. What car do people pick out of a crowd for "great (capital D) Design?" Audi? BMW? But what car silently makes the profits of these vehicles like chump change (some boring car that *everyone's* got, like a Honda Civic). By design? <<

What is to be said of throwaways and invisible design?

I'm sure people are going to respond to my post here.

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1 comment:

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