design Redesign is the fourth ‘R’ — after reduce, reuse, recycle — that could make the world saner, more sustainable and more livable. But most design is unremarkable: Pretentious, imitative, retrospective, incremental. Here are five radical design principles, gleaned from thinking about how few of the over-hyped design mega-award-winners are purple cows :

  1. Design should be intelligent, not informative. It should do things for you, not give you more data to do things for yourself. How could we design an in-car navigation system to do this? (my own idea)
  2. Design should obviously and intuitively simulate real life, not force people to adapt to new technology. It should need no manual. How could we design meeting technology, or technology for long-distance family videoconferences, to do this? (idea from Alias|Wavefront )
  3. Design should recognize that we are nomads by nature, and be so portable we take it everywhere without even thinking about it. Anything else ties us down: to desks, offices, cities, civilization, routines, old ideas, boring places, the tyranny of possessions. How could we design kitchens, or clothes, to do this? (my own idea)
  4. Design should start with a small piece of wood and shadowing someone under thirty. Tell him or her it’s a magic block and can be designed to do anything. Write down what he or she wishes it could do. Then start designing. (idea from Marc Rettig )
  5. Design should make you feel better. Our terrible world is making us all crazy. Most of us can’t or won’t be involved in fixing it. So design stuff that comforts, exhilarates, stimulates, takes people away. Think safe recreational drugs, more effective women’s vibrators, VR tours of exotic places. (my own idea)

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  1. mrG says:

    Design should serve the body, not enslave the mind. (paraphrase of the Wm.S.Burroughs Nike commercial)

  2. Dave Pollard says:

    I’m still mad at Nike for their legal battle for the right to lie to consumers. I should have mentioned that Caterina (see link in subsequent post above) also has some opinions on ‘best and worst’ of design.

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