Good design is more than this


(image via Jonathan Trier Brikner)

There’s more to being a design genius than this. Truly.

Just because you have a computer, laptop or tablet allowing you to download free fonts and free images and use some free app you discovered on Twitter does not make you a design genius.

Just because you “designed” a cool graphic image the way many misled souls believe they labored and “built” an IKEA bookshelf does not make you a design genius. [1]

Celebrated graphic designer, Milton Glaser, put it best:

Computers are to design as microwaves are to cooking.

Good design solves problems and presents stories. As a creative director for an international publishing house, my chief goal is to attract potential readers to new books by capturing a story in a single cover image. To illustrate the point further, an author (for whom I had just completed a book design) emailed me recently: “I’m getting some great feedback on my Facebook page about the cover. Thank you very much…” Good design is about communication: problem solved, story told.

NOTE: [1] For what it is worth, IKEA is not good design. It is nothing more than cheaper-than-Wal-mart veneer furniture, second-rate fabric products and wax-paper lamps. And don’t call IKEA “modern design” because modern design is so 1948. Seriously, the modernist movement began almost a century ago. But I digress.

5 thoughts on “Good design is more than this

  1. Well, it greatly depends on what IKEA item you’re talking about. And I have to argue that the true “design” of IKEA is the store itself which does accomplish what they set out to do (that is get you to hang around all day and buy various cheap stuff, stay for lunch, etc.)

    • Good observation. IKEA’s brand is the store experience rather than products sold. Full disclosure, I’ve never been to an IKEA store. I’ve only observed people who brag about their IKEA products and I smile, nod my head and try not to reveal how unimpressed I am.

      Some of IKEA’s products look like a bunch of two-by-fours and one-by-eights carefully arranged with nuts and bolts and coated with paint and varnish and packaged some someone can assemble it at home. That probably sounds snobbish. It’s just that, if I want cheap home furnishings, I’ll build it myself. Actually, I’ve done that.

      I guess what annoys me about IKEA is the pretense. For example, I built my own laptop stand (complete with ergonomic tilt, base, and ventilation holes). Some people ask where I bought it. “I built it myself from scrap lumber,” I tell them. They don’t seem too impressed, but if I told them I got it from IKEA they may think that’s pretty cool.

      Does that make sense? Maybe I’m rambling.

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