Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Good is the new Great

What makes you pick up a magazine is the cover, content is secondary. It is well known for playing an important role in the purchasing or viewing of print. To the graphic designer, what goes into making a good cover is a no brainer. That recurring word which has been growing in popularity ever since the digital age shows up once more, particularly present in design. 

Why is good the new great?

Good is simple easy quick fast and in a hurry. Great strives for excellence, perfection, it's constantly looking to reach what good never cares for. Today, we're here to talk about why such a plain word has begun to dominate the design world.

  A quick Google search will give us the following: for "good", sleek magazines, websites and companies show up such as the famous social network which allows users to participate in life changing activities and propose benevolent projects. Technology and health, among other fields coining the same term, encompass similar minimalistic and bold esthetics. "Great", however, brings up Gang Resistance Education and Training, Wikipedia articles, dictionary definitions and lately, the Great Gatsby. Why the sudden contrast? Neither appears to be better than the other, per se. Good is simply simple. No more, no less, it can stop a sentence and validate an opinion without  additional evidence.

Is good bad?

  Yes and no. Put to proper use, the word advocates accessibility turning an unidentified object into a friendly product. On the flip side, it can be used to manipulate into vapid consumption.

David Berman's book, "Do Good Design" outlines how brands entice over consumption.
What is good?

 German industrial designer Dieter Rams (think Braun) posed this questions, answering himself with the following ten principles:
  1. Is innovative - The possibilities for progression are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for original designs. But imaginative design always develops in tandem with improving technology, and can never be an end in itself.
  2. Makes a product useful - A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic criteria. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could detract from it.
  3. Is aesthetic - The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.
  4. Makes a product understandable - It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user's intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.
  5. Is unobtrusive - Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user's self-expression.
  6. Is honest - It does not make a product appear more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
  7. Is long-lasting - It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today's throwaway society.
  8. Is thorough down to the last detail - Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.
  9. Is environmentally friendly - Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.
  10. Is as little design as possible - Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.

Taking on a new importance, for better or worse, this expression clings on, buzzing and inspiring a new generation of designers in an almost counter cultural, anti-perfectionist fashion. Either way, it's safe to say that despite the word's uncertain future, modern esthetics are saying goodbye to great, and looking good.

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