What design does not need to be

We at spotd have a precise idea of what Design is and should be. We don't pretend to have the truth, or to be considered an undisputed voice; we don't want to polemicize, critic or be provocative (well maybe just a healthy bit sometimes). We simply want to share our findings and thoughts with those that appreciate the same design philosophy.
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That said, we believe that many designers and companies are too busy following trends and desperately seeking new stylistic languages. Don't get us wrong, we have nothing against the exploration of new aesthetic paths and we do get as excited as everyone does when a product hits our deepest senses, but we are convinced that there should always be an ethic, intelligent and functional support to all that: beautiful yes, but with substance please
So we asked ourselves what design does not need to be, here are the answers we gave to ourselves (with a little help from you, our dear readers).

We have noticed in the past years an increasing number of products that have no founding idea: they weren't born after the exploration of a certain material or technology, they don't solve a problem in a new innovative way, they don't respond to particular needs and sometimes even hardly perform their primary function. These objects exist because they follow a particular decorative trend. 
As we see it, Product Design should not be a seasonal thing, just as much as intelligence isn't. Products have to be useful, comfortable, ethical, and beautiful; they respond to a long list of requirements and constraints coming from both users and producers and it takes so much in terms of thinking, energy, money and resources to produce objects that they shouldn't by any reason be considered with the trivial logics of fashion. 
Dieter Rams used to say good design should be timeless, and we so much agree with him.

...a predefined stylistic language.
We are deeply convinced that designers and companies should constantly seek for new aesthetic and expression languages, we want them to challenge our sensibility and push the borders of conventions; but we'd like that to happen for a reason. Or to put it in simple words, should a lamp; a pair of shoes and a water tab all have the same shape? 
Design is innovation in all senses, is not a fixed formula of curves, shapes, colours and proportions that can be proposed over an over because is the recognizable "signature" of any given designer. 
We don't want to sound extremists here; we accept and appreciate the fact that every designer imprints to the objects he designs his very own personality; the challenge is not letting that personal style overtake the object itself. The risk is having the own portfolio become a bunch of trivial commonplaces.

Many so-called "design" products happen to be more a piece of art than respond to the rational logics of industrial manufacturing and functional living. This doesn't mean that objects need to be reproduced thousands of times to be considered products, what we mean here is that we should not confuse artistic expressions applied to objects or decorative arts with design. 
A product, even if manufactured as a one-off or in limited series, respond to functional, rational, productive and ethical logics that go far beyond the single act of self-expression. The aesthetics of a product should be the consequent result of the product's ability to solve a problem and perform a determinate function, not the reason for it to exist.


You are wallowing in a sea of romanticism for a bygone era. The great masters of design (castiglione, eames, et al.) designed for a different market...

We have to interpret their work as a reflection of their time. The 50's and 60's were times of great social change. People wanted to live life in a different way. The dusty patina of old was swept away by the promise of space travel and efficiency in every aspect of their lives. Earlier generations bought furniture for a lifetime, we just want to be cool.

Furniture design whether we like it or not has broken into different segments. Mainstream design has mutated into fashion, where a new look or collection every 6 months drives growth and development. How do get people to keep on buying stuff they already have? We create an anxiety relivable by purchase. We make them feel their 5 year old sofa is old and inadequate, oh, and your baggy pants suck too!

We've ran out of ideas... So we create new nonexistent problems to solve. The path of least resistance is to mix art and caprici into existing objects.

I too love a well designed object, but we have to be real and figure that this way of seeing design is not the only one there is or should be. Don't fight against a powerful current; embrace change, mix it up and I'm sure that the 80/20 rule will still apply.

Function and art can be mixed tastefully, like zebras with stripes and butterflies with glitter in their wings.

You are right, times have changed and so has design. For good and for bad.

We happen to believe this holistic approach to design does not belong only to the past, is in good health and alive in the hands and minds of plenty talented designers and companies producing well designed objects (Bouroullecs, Grcic, Blumer, Urquiola, Meda, Diez and the list goes on) that manage to sell and create iconic pieces of contemporary design.

Have we run out of ideas? or is it just a lot easier to decorate a chair as if it was a cake, to give a lamp an organic shape regardless of the poor light quality or to just make it pink, than conceiving a well thought new product?
There is definitely not one way of doing design, and we are so glad there's room for all sorts of creative explorations. We so much fall for objects that strike our aesthetic sensibility, is just that beautiful should not equal silly, or trivial.
... isn't good design cool? We so very much think so!

Ha! I knew my comment would leave out lots of things...

I too agree that there are plenty of contemporary designers doing the right thing, it's just that there are many more ways to design than there were before.

The part of running out of ideas is badly worded irony.
I think we need to transform this virtual discussion to a live meeting, preferably over cheese and wine :0) !!!

yes! can't resist wine, cheese and good discussions :-)

... you are so right when you say that function and art (or is it aesthetics?) can be mixed to perfection, we believe there's many powerful cases not only in nature but also in the design world. That's precisely the kind of design we look forward to.

Definitely one of the blogs that caught my eye.

This is a great site. Good clean interface and nice informative articles. I will be coming back soon, thanks for the great article.

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