Our final topic in this series is “Good Design is as little design as possible”.

As designers I think we can get caught up in designing the “best” all singing all dancing product, including hundreds of features on it, when actually we should be concentrating on the main use of the item and design it so that specific features perform highly. Often these extras are added as a way of gaining more market share and competing with others doing the same. A massive example of this is mobile phones. Since the birth of the smart phone, the handsets have become more featured to the point that some people don’t use their phone as a phone any more! Now if you take a look at the steps involved in making a call it is significantly longer than simply picking up an old handset and dialling. This is a perfect example of where design has made a product more difficult to use. In contrast to this however there is a movement to reverse the ingress of multi-function by returning products the their intended purpose. Take for example the John’s Phone by John Doe Amsterdam, this is a bare bones phone. No extra features at all, it does exactly what it says on the tin, thus making it more user-friendly.

Whilst this focuses mainly on function, the same ideas can also be applied to form. Reducing unnecessary sculptural features can give items a sleek and contemporary feel, yet also allow the user to engage more with them since they act as a blank slate for their own interpretation. They also don’t draw attention away from the function of the item, instead combine to enforce its purpose. 

As Dieter Ram’s said “Back to purity, back to simplicity”!

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