The handout ‘Taste for Makers’ resonated with me very much, being an art student and occasionally taking commissions from others for designs and illustrations. Of the aspects of good design mentioned in the article, two struck me harder than the others:
‘Good design is suggestive.’
‘Good design is simple.’
These two aspects are fundamental in the arts, similar to how literature does not send messages but raises questions. Good art and design can resonate with its audience and create suggestions and arise further thought about the piece of art. Many artists and designers, including myself, at times, mess up in these aspects. When designing, it is vital to avoid, by all means, the thoughtless piling of different elements. I say this because repeating the same element can be done in a very aesthetically pleasing manner. In contrast, overuse of different ones would only confuse, or worse, disrupt the further imagining of the audience.
This common misconception of ‘complexity = good design’ is widely spreading, as the internet fastens the pace of media consumption and the easiest way for a piece of art or design to leave an impression is through simply piling up popular elements. However, as Mr. Paul Graham said, good design must be simple and suggestive, or in my understanding, guiding. The key to a truly good, memorable design, through my own experience, is guiding the audience onto the parts the designer wishes them to focus on. This technique is similar to using foil characters to better establish the protagonist in literature. Having many points of focus is not impossible, by all means, such as an ensemble cast, but it is impractical for a design.
Thinking about design in such a way can really help and project onto other aspects in life, such as writing, or something even more daily, cooking. When you cook a steak, it’s not a good idea to serve your steak with another slice of pan-seared salmon as a side dish, the two would fight one another for your attention, clashing tastes and overconsumption of protein and fat would soon make you feel sick of grease. Instead of this, how about just steak with some simple potatoes and asparagus to elevate it’s rich protein taste, followed by some nice dessert, like a sweet slice of Mr. Macknight’s favorite pumpkin pie?