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Achieving great design… everything exists because someone wanted it there

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Last year, when Archangel Interactive CEO Mike Mwaura gave me a lift in his new BMW M3, he was beside himself. This, dear reader, is a big deal. Mike rarely slips up to show excitement. But here he was, going crazy as hell. He’s not one to brag, nor is he a speed freak either. No. It was the designer in him. “The doors, my friend. The doors feel heavy, but they’re not actually heavier than those on other cars. Rather, the hinges have been tuned to offer greater resistance. That heavier feel helps impart a feeling of weightiness, importance, and value.” Now, he went on and on about how the BMW was a design tour de force. He was right, I thought, as I opened the door to slide out.

Design is Psychology.

Now you might not think of Mark Zuckerberg as a designer, but in my opinion, he is. Notice how the whole of Facebook is designed on a cool blue feel? Guess what… Psychologists say the blue colour is soothing to the brain; it has a positive effect on mood, emotion and behaviour; a colour of trust, honesty and loyalty. Sound familiar? Now you know why you for some reason find yourself sharing your personal information on Facebook. It might also explain why you feel safe being friends with total strangers, and go on to defend Facebook saying it’s not like the other sharing sites your mama warned you about. Maybe.. just maybe.

Design is Skill. Finesse. Mastery of craft.

Movie directors will tell you “There’s always a theory of where the camera is and why it’s there.” Same concept in design .There is a reason for everything being where it is… The fonts… The background colour… The speed of the transition… The colour of the footer that you barely even notice… The fade in effect. You can tell a designer’s skill by how effortlessly these elements fall into place for them. They just seem to know the correct mix of things. It is that special touch that design is all about.

Design is Nerve; dauntlessness; bravery.

Good design is defined by the audacity to break out of the box. Innovation is scary. After all, the designer knows little of what the outcome will be. Designers will tell you, it all starts with a good idea at first. Midway through the project and you start wondering what cheap drugs you were on when coming up with that idea in the first place. Bravery pushes you past the doubts. It takes you to your finished product.

Design is More.

More than the solution to the problem it was intended to solve. More than the grass being greener on the other side. More than the economics of its finished product. A through and through designer doesn’t even do it for the money. Yes, design is more than the commercial value of what it gives life to. It is more of the joy, the happiness, the 7,456 cups of coffee (not that we keep count) . Its more of the fulfilment it brings.

Design is Balance.

Good design is based on moderation. Not throwing away the baby with the bath water. Keeping what’s necessary and eliminating whats not. Because let’s face it, if its not important, then why is it there to begin with? However, at the same time, the most dangerous phrase in design is “We’ve always done it this way.” So it is striking the right balance between both these concepts. The both extremes and the middle ground, at the same damn time!

Design is Perfect.

It’s ostensibly said, “To improve is to change. To perfect is to change often.” In the cosmetic way design changes, I guess we could safely deduce that design is perfect. God designed the Universe. HE designed Venus to be the only planet that rotates clockwise. HE chose the colours of the sky and the plants and the different races. And at the end of it HE said it was perfect.

So next time you find yourself asking what design is, just remember, I said first. Design is Everything. Design is Everywhere.

  • Auxillia Wambui

    Really insightful article Brian. Keep up the good work!!!