It’s a phenomenon that the most simple of things are the most sort after and appreciated. Paulo Coelho once said, ‘The simplest things in life are the most extraordinary. Only wise men are able to understand them.’ This quote jogs my memory, taking me back when I was in campus, where I remember my fascination on a certain class on Bauhaus Design.
For those who are not familiar with the term: Bauhaus is a German school of thought founded with the idea of creating a “total” work of art in which all arts, including architecture, would eventually be brought together. The Bauhaus style became one of the most influential currents in Modernist architecture and modern design. 1The Bauhaus had a profound influence upon subsequent developments in art, architecture, graphic design, interior design, industrial design, and typography. Bauhaus shows purism with emphasis on straight edges and smooth, slim forms. Rooms were sparsely furnished, but filled with hygienic freshness. Superfluous features were taboo.
The designs from this era is usually simple but beautiful. There is a perfect combination of function and aesthetics that it appears almost ‘common’. Funny that even with the simplicity of Bauhaus design one notices that to come up with such design one needs to be highly discerning and accomplished designer. ‘Simple’ is not simple at all!
Anyway, the point I’m trying to bring across, is the importance of designers recognizing that design is meant to be ‘simple’. Many at times, we brainstorm and end up with a booklet of possible solutions that the client may wish to consider when truly its only one or two of those solutions that is really necessary. I totally understand that the industry needs to thrive by making money but honestly I don’t think it should come at the expense of the client paying extra for strategies that will not add value for their brands.
Indeed, designers today have the task to come up with exciting and engaging designs/ strategies for brands. But the truth is, hardly do you see these ideas being effective in impacting the consumers. It is a pity that there are brands out there forking out so much money and are not getting the value they deserve.
Not only should designers be more objective, but start thinking more about being ethical in their idea generations. Few but powerful, simple yet engaging ideas are far more impactful that many, random and complex ideas. They say, less is more. Yes, this doesn’t just apply to makeup or the fashion industry, it applies in everything.
Just a few examples to highlight this: The quest for eco-friendly models of design is on the rise. Use of natural material that is recyclable, biodegradable and eco-friendly is now becoming an urgent consideration in global design. Just look around you, today more than ever, consumers are expecting and even demanding that manufacturers, brands and products behave responsibly, ethically and sustainably.
In this market (Africa), we need to start looking inwards and design solution that fit into the lives of the consumer, and solving pressing problems that they specifically face.
Secondly, we learn from the Bauhaus to broaden our horizons, look for inspiration in the world around us. Magazine adverts, a kiosk, the side profile of a car in the street, the opening credits to a film – there are theories and principles all around us and it’s up to us to take a step back once in a while and see if any of them are applicable.
You work in an agency? Go and see what the marketing guys are up to. If you’re a web designer, see what the print and packaging people are working on. You might see something that has absolutely no connection to the job you’re working on but it might set you off on a different trail of thought which leads to a great outcome for your project. I get so many inspirations from music, cartoons, animation and yes humor of Kenyan politics.
My challenge is for designers to be more professional and better in what they do. We need to comprehend the essence of how to maximize our skills and in turn offer unique ideas every single time we design for our clients. There is a wealth of materials all around us. Use them…In moderation J
There is a freedom in being simple. Just to keep us grounded about life, here is a site I thought would give us more perspective: http://www.marcandangel.com/2008/03/23/the-30-most-satisfying-simple-pleasures-life-has-to-offer/