Observations On Design

One thing I’ve noticed lately is that elements in design, or what people are adding to new designs, has become more complex, at least in appearance, for no reason.

I usually get lost in seemingly random details when I observe things. For example, when I look at a new car, one that just hit the market, I notice the changes from the previous design of the same car, and my focus usually goes to the smaller things, like the lines of the tail lights, or the little curves or ribs on the doors. Then, I see another new car, from a different manufacturer, but with similar design patterns. Maybe it’s a trend or fashion for cars of this year to have these details and be a certain way. And from there, well, I begin to search those details around in other cars, focusing always on the minute things. Now, couple this with my obsession with cleanest lines, and you get an even deeper observation effort underway.

The pro of doing this is that, well, you get to really observe the design and find what works for you or not. On the other hand, the con of this is that you spend a lot of time observing things and looking at details for no reason really.

So, I’ve been noticing that design in general is again being complicated. Elements are being added to things for the sake of it. I think designers or marketing professionals think that the more noisy something is, the less people will find how cheaply made it is, and think it’s better? Going back to cars, look at the current affordable cars. They all seem to have extra chrome, extra lines and ribs, extra additions to the metal, extra large lights, bigger dashboards, full of chrome of course, and a shape that screams good-idea-fairy.

Of course this is just my opinion, man...

But stop one second and look at this. Look at kitchen cabinets, or things like a simple toaster, yes, that machine that makes toasts. Overly complicated in design. They perform one function, and often they do it in a good way, but their design, I don’t know what to think of it.

I like smooth, simple things. Sure, that’s me. I find a clean and straight line much nicer than a curved one that has no reason to be curved, that it’s just curved for the sake of adding something.

All this got me thinking about where things are going, a dark place to be if you get lost in the details, since I look at things deeply, generally speaking. The pattern I’m observing is that as consumerism get bigger and bigger (bigger than it already is, mind you), people try to get more people to buy stuff by adding more stuff to things that are, by nature, simple, and they think that by making them look bigger, or more complex, or having more ornamentations it will attract more people. It might be true, otherwise why do it, why keep on doing it?

Things get busier for the eyes with each iteration it seems. And that bothers me. Visual clutter is not only having many things on top of the desk, or inside a house. Visual clutter is having things be busy for no reason, grabbing your attention, and causing you to focus on the shiny stuff.

We are slowly dying of complexity and noise. I wonder if at some point it will revert and things will get simpler and simpler until you get to the essence of the object...


I hope.