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Good design, quirky or just a design crime?

April 12, 2011

Good design can be viewed as purely subjective and often what one person loves is hated by others.  As an interior designer I view hundreds of products each week and the distance between good design and a design crime seems to continue to grow!

Good design, Quirky or just a Design Crime?

I personally would split the design of products into 3 categories.  The first category is Good Design, these are the products that are generally universally loved and admired by all.  Next we have Quirky, the products that we might not all like but we can appreciate the appeal – the growth of Union Jack branded products falls into this category.  My third category is Design Crimes, products that should never have been manufactured and whoever ‘designed’ them is not worthy of the title ‘designer’.

Your new bath?

Dieter Rams who designed the Vitseo shelving featured in this month’s Design classic questioned how you could define good design – this was after he asked himself the question “is my design good design?”  He wrote a list of principles, that are often referred to in the design world as the 10 Commandments, and state:

1. Good design is innovative
2. Good design makes a product useful
3. Good design is aesthetic

Sumo coffee table?

4. Good design makes a product understandable
5. Good design is unobtrusive
6. Good design is honest

Maybe an avocado suite would be better?

7. Good design is long-lasting
8. Good design is thorough down to the last detail
9. Good design is environmentally friendly
10. Good design is as little design as possible

Built in reading lamps?

All of the products featured here have been found on the internet by me and my colleague Kent Griffiths, and we both think they all belong firmly in one of my three categories above.  But as I’ve said design is subjective so what do you think?

20 Comments leave one →
  1. April 12, 2011 10:02 am

    Definitely not my thing at all! I like making a statement but these are just not right!! 🙂

  2. April 12, 2011 10:29 am

    I would have to lean toward ‘design crimes’ myself, but do tell – do you find them ‘quirky’?

    • April 12, 2011 10:54 am

      Not quirky – my thoughts fall into one of the other categories, hopefully pretty obvious which one!

  3. April 12, 2011 10:53 am

    In the eye of this beholder – Lamp, weird but fun on someone else’s desk!
    Shoe Bath – Las Vegas penthouse.
    Sumo coffee table – I’m lost for words.
    Bathroom Suite – vial , on every level.
    Reading lamp sofa – I imagine this in a quirky Amsterdam cafe, inviting me to drink coffee and ready newspapers on a Sunday morning!

    • April 12, 2011 11:00 am

      Fantastic, love how you have matched the products to interiors 🙂 Next time I’m asked to do a Las Vegas penthouse I’ll be specifying one on those baths. Thanks for your comments.

  4. April 12, 2011 12:14 pm


    Find the darkest cell and lock them away. Forever.

    On the flip side I think Dieter Rams is amazing. I am a huge fan of Vitseo shelving. His 10 points are excellent. I wish every product designer would embrace them!

  5. April 12, 2011 1:13 pm

    Brilliant! Some of those things I love (the duck lamp) and some of them want to make me barf – namely the bathroom suite. Great blog Andrew 🙂

    • April 12, 2011 2:27 pm

      As I said some of these people will love, some people will hate – for me they are all in the same category 🙂

  6. April 12, 2011 7:29 pm

    Call the design police for all of these! You’ve shown us design crimes in so many different categories, from a decapitated duck to a bath in a (possibly smelly) shoe to gilding where it definitely doesn’t belong. Yikes!

  7. April 13, 2011 7:51 am

    I like the sofa, and would like the bath if the heel didn’t occupy real estate unnecessarily.

    • April 13, 2011 8:11 am

      Ok, I’ll put you down for those two items Nick – what about the sumo coffee table?

  8. April 13, 2011 12:52 pm

    Not even crimes of passions…. no heart or soul to these at all. Where ever did you dig them out Andrew?

    • April 13, 2011 1:55 pm

      All gems found on the internet, if you do want to purchase any Mary I have the links!

  9. April 16, 2011 12:44 pm

    Personally I think they are all design crimes with the exception of the Duck Lamp with is a positive blood bath in the design crime area. It looks like something my 3 yr old put together. Mind you often those are considered designs created by a genuis- haha.

  10. April 16, 2011 9:23 pm

    Andrew, you forgot the Cinderella bed I think this may give you a hint as to what categories I think they all belong in 🙂

  11. April 16, 2011 9:25 pm

    Sorry previous link was wrong.

  12. January 31, 2012 3:58 pm

    Design Crimes mostly, certainly quirky. The bathroom suite is hideous! The sofa with lamps may get away with it and be avant garde…..I can see it would fit in certain places well. Personally I think the goose/duck lamp is awful…so I guess quirky, sumo table is an abomination design wise in my opinion.

    • February 1, 2012 11:12 am

      Great to hear your view Dawn. I think most people agree that they all belong in one category!

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