Joy in design

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 15, 2019, 7:20 PM | comments: 0

I was talking with one of our UX/designer experts at work the other day about finding the things that please us in terms of design. I typically discount my own opinions in this area, but she correctly pointed out that we all have things that we're drawn to, things that invoke an emotional response. Since that conversation, I'm surprised at how often I see small things that cause that response. They're everywhere.

For example, I love great typography. Our phones and computers now have so many pixels that we stop seeing the dots. Words look almost like they've been precisely painted on to the screens. Those perfect curves look so smooth, and I wonder if "kids today" even remember big chunky low-resolution text. Sometimes it's just the icons. The newest version of Android refined the battery and wifi icons subtly, and tiny as they are, they look better.

Cars have a ton of design joy baked into them. Some are better than others. Tesla has gone crazy minimalist in their cars, and that long wood dashboard with no visible vents and a single screen in the middle is genuinely beautiful on the Model 3. I even dig the aerodynamic wheel covers, which are generally pretty divisive.

If you want to really appreciate design, I don't think anything is as well thought out as the Lego system. The basic brick and its ability to snap on to other bricks thousands of times, consistent across decades of manufacture, would by itself be impressive. But when you get into the wider collection of specialty bricks, and the ways they connect, it's staggering how absolutely nothing is by accident. When you start putting together things with studs on more than one side, and see how they can unite precisely at different angles, it's amazing.

Even completely utilitarian things like highway interchanges have designs that can be inspiring. They serve as a symphony of direction and efficiency (until they're almost immediately overloaded, at least).

There is beautiful design all around us. Stop and enjoy it. Some humans worked hard on it.

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