I’m passionate about combining visual display with a minimalist aesthetic that brings the most important elements to our attention. I’m passionate about using this to bring people together, to draw out the best in each of them.
Look at Apple. Sometimes I think that Apple’s chief achievement, as a technology company, was to bring an appreciation of design to the mainstream. It wasn’t easy going, for them; for a long time, good design was seen as somehow insulting to function, as a ‘cover-up’ of quality. Real tools were supposed to be brute ugly; beautiful tools, by contrast, were slagged as decadent.
Beauty won out in the end. It took a long time for the shift to happen, but gradually, little by little, tools that looked good won the dollar vote. At a certain point a threshold was crossed, and people didn’t have to pretend anymore that there was anything bad about good design. Too many people had ‘bought in’. The old criticisms, now old and outdated, faded away.
Minimalism in action, combined with beauty. We need beauty, but we also need a point of focus, to see it for what it is and appreciate it.
I’m a runner, and I’ve even seen this transition in something as simple as men’s shoes. In the 90’s, sneakers were chock-a-block with plastic extrusions, ridges, boxes and swooshes, and a general ‘Swiss Army Knife’ approach to design. Gradually, though, simpler, cleaner lines started to be introduced, an appreciation of a bold but not overly busy color scheme started to catch on, and things got more elegant.
All the major shoes companies caught on, and now that’s the ‘new norm’ – clean lines, strong forms. Even Nike, the one-time upholder of the old guard, caught on, and switched camps. As of today, that’s the dominant mode, the same trend we saw in consumer electronics, in a separate mold.
In a way, it’s even a sensible reaction to the world we live in. There’s too much going on, too many sources competing for our attention. Strong design pushes the most important pieces out front and center, where they can be appreciated by your attention. It’s the enemy of blandness, of mushing everything together, of too many things going on; it’s strong elements, a definite focus for the eyes to grasp, a bold approach to choice. It says, here I am; look at me.
The idea that design is function, that the two are connected, has started to crack into the mainstream, and enjoy wide acceptance. There are so many tools out there which are excellent, but which reject design as not being connected to function, as unnecessary. For many (not all), a stronger appreciation of design would help them achieve their purpose, to be seen and used by as many people as possible, without subtracting anything from their functionality.
Getting this message across, for me, was one of the most important things Apple ever did.