What is Design?
There are too many things in the world. And we all possess too many of these things. They fill our closets and drawers and garages. We might need them someday, we tell ourselves, but that’s not true. In almost every case you’ll wear the shoes you love or use the knife that feels right. The backup option remains the backup. So shear the mediocrity away, and get good scissors that actually work. Replace the second-rate with old bone-handle knives you got in London (for less than you’d think), a suit you saved for, or a Duralex glass, that, in its utilitarian way, is undefeated.
We’re fed ads, we’re sold fads. This will make your life easier, they tell us. That’s rarely the case because if it was good it would have already been invented. It’s reassuring to remember that smart people, many generations of them, lived before us. You have an invention? Does it represent something beyond novelty? Is it significantly lighter or faster and better than what it’s replacing? Tell me about it in five years. You have some new clothes? Tell me about them in twenty. There’s nothing you can wear to a good restaurant that wasn’t around before you were born. If you dressed like Fred Astaire you would be at home in the best dining rooms in London, Paris, New York or Tokyo. Maybe not LA.
Design serves a purpose, solves a problem, is handsome, and over time, develops an internal momentum and attains a sense of inevitability. When it’s no longer new it becomes classic. Like the Odeon dining room. Like a BMW wagon. Like the Braun coffee maker. Like the Hamilton military watch.