Design – What is good design?

Design – What is good design?

  1. What is good design?

Design [dəzajn] is a 
method of problem solving.

The simplest definition: Design is so many things, executed in many different ways, but the function is always the same. Whether it’s blueprints, a clever UI, a brochure, or a chair – design can help solve a visual or physical problem.

So what is 
“good design”? This definition is not so simple. The best designs are notorious for seeming not designed at all – or ‘un-designed’.

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Design needs aesthetic shape:

“The term ‘negative space’ is not an evaluative appellation. We talk about “drawing negative space” as a precise and accurate technique of gathering information about complex shapes – spatial relationships and inter-relationships, angles. Our eye is familiar with walking boundaries. The Maori koru makes the viewer aware of the power of negative space that holes create. There is no disruption to the cohesion of the form simply the number of elements has increased and the language enriched” RODNEY HAYWARD – MARCH, 2005



“Scuplture is essentially occupation of space, the construction of an object with hollows and solid parts, mass void, their variations and reciprocal tensions and finally their equilibrium” – HENRI LAURENS

Design needs innovative creativity:

‘Creativity in the design process is often characterised by the occurrence of a significant event – the so-called ‘creative leap’. Sometimes such an event occurs as a sudden insight which the designer immediately recognises as significant, but often it is only in retrospect that the designer (or an observer of the design process) is able to identify a point during the design process at which the key concept began to emerge. ….accounts of creative events in design made by the designers themselves may not be wholly reliable. However, some recent descriptive, empirical studies of the creative event have begun to shed more light on this mysterious (and often mystified) aspect of design. ….Studying creative design is seen as problematic because there can be no guarantee that a creative ‘event’ will occur during a design process, and because of the difficulty of identifying a solution idea as ‘creative’. But in every design project creativity can be found – if not in the apparent form of a distinct creative event, then as the evolution of a unique solution possessing some degree of creativity’

‘Surprise is what keeps a designer from routine behaviour. The ‘surprising’ parts of a problem or solution drive the originality streak in a design project. The process of evolution in the natural world is nowadays seen as driven by a reaction to a surprise (change in environment), rather than a gradual changing of a phenotype and genotype in an ever-closer approximation to an optimum in the fitness function. We suggest that creativity in the design process can validly be compared to such ‘bursts of development’.




Design needs to comfortably function well:

To conclude, design is a subjective entity and while there are elements of objectivity, the fundamental success of design is in its function, which takes priority over aesthetic, however the combination of both makes for a enjoyable piece of furniture.

“The Shaker design philosophy is one of prioritization: their main priority is to be necessary and useful. Then, once that has been achieved, make something beautiful. To me this is a great way to explain design, without sacrificing beauty or expression of the designer. Many times I’ve got in trouble when trying to articulate this sentiment, such as my recent post on 5 Principles to Design By, in which I suggest that “Design is not Art”. I tell myself that design is not art so I can focus on the idea that design should be functional above all else, and once that is achieved the designer can imbue it with other properties.” JOSHUA PORTER (March 7th, 2007)



       2. Planning

While it is hard to determine whether the idea in your head is going to be aesthetically and functionally successful, you can however ensure that you will come very close to a good design through thoughtful preparation and planning.


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