belatrova is a collaboration between a painter, a potter and a musician, so each one of us brings his particular slant to any discussion during the Tuesday morning meetings. To our surprise, we often agree on a number of issues, and this week we ended up in general agreement about “good design”.
Good design (we three nodded) has to strike a balance between commercial imperatives and aesthetic ones. A customer buys the product in order to use it, its design clear and understandable, and good design points to this whilst also highlighting the product’s aesthetic value. And design must be honest, in the sense that the product should “do what it says” and not be weighed down by details that only confuse. Another more recent definition has become part of the debate, and that is that good design ensures a product achieves positive results for all involved, while having as little impact on the planet as possible.
Personally I have always had a soft spot for the Coca Cola bottle: its shape is the perfect invitation to grip it, and it shows its content openly. When it first came out in 1916 it must have been perceived as futuristic, its contours a contrast to the straight-sided bottles that preceded it.
Nowadays, of course, it is considered a “classic” and probably associated with the 50s more than any other decade. Unless it is recycled after use, though, I am not sure that it fully fits into our description of good design.
I naturally assumed that Josh of Josh Thomas Design House (www.joshthomasdesignhouse.co.uk) would agree with me, specially since he favours the fifties look. But I was surprised when he told me what summed it all up for him: the Bic pen. Why? Because it hides nothing. It says to the customer: “I am for writing, I am easy to hold, I am cheap, you need not worry about loosing me, you can throw me away”.
By the way, is there a way to recycle the Bic?
And what product design does it for you?