“This isn’t going to end too well for me is it?”
“Nope definitely not ending well.”
“Do you still think I’m pretty.”
This cleaver wrap is the punch line for the iPad vs. Surface RT commercial currently running on television. When Apple initially launched the iPad we were awed. It was pretty, sleek, well designed – it did things that we thought only our computers could do. The iPad, like the microwave, presented us with a device that we didn’t even know we needed, and we had to have it. It was true innovation powered by design.
Now along comes Surface and it has added features that make it more usable at a lower price making it an appealing competitor to the iPad. This expansion of ideas that make things more user friendly is the nature of human centered design. That, is what architects and interior designers have always focused on. So, if you pause for one moment and look around at everything you see. You realize that every single inanimate thing is created by someone. And more importantly, the design of these things makes a difference in your life whether you realize it or not.
Everything required someone to decide how it should happen, where it should happen and how much it will cost. In that sense designers make ideas tangible in ways you can touch and experience.
There seems to be a renewed appreciation of great design brought about, in no small way, by businesses realizing that great design boosts their bottom line. Some of today’s most inspired companies are propelled by design: Target, 3M, Apple, Dyson, Nike and Virgin to name a few.
Designers are becoming influencers of corporate structure as well as products. Approaching problems from a designer’s point of view typically places the users (customers, workers, patrons, etc.) and the overall experience as the guiding force in the creation of innovative solutions. The buzz phrase among designers is “human-centric design”; putting the human experience, on all levels, at the forefront of the design criteria. Great design should consider both the intimate individual human experience and the broader global implications of the things we create.
On the small scale, consider a toothpick. Traditional Japanese toothpicks are pointed on only one end. The other end has grooves. The grooves are designed to allow the end to be broken off which indicates that the toothpick has been used. It also allows for the pointed end to be propped upon the stub to keep it clean. Even toothpicks are designed. And when designed with intention the beauty of the object is expressed.
On the global scale the fact that the things we design usually take resources. They also have a life cycle. It is becoming more and more imperative that designers consider the full ramifications of their work and strive to develop methods of total reuse and recycling of the resources we use.
Designers can’t prevent people from doing what they want to with products they own, but that does not excuse them from ignoring the larger system. Often, in our enthusiasm for solving the the problem in front of us, we fail to to see the problems that we create. Designers…are in a position to make important decisions about what resources society uses and where they end up.” -Tim Brown, Change by Design