Designing Perfection

How do you measure the success of your designs?

I use a fake rock.

I carry a bamboo-version of a river stone with me because as far as I’m concerned, its as close as I’ve ever found to perfect design.

It sits in every hand I’ve ever handed it to, perfectly.

Every angle, every side, no matter how you hold it, its pretty much perfect. Its a rare design that doesn’t matter how you look at it and still manages to be perfect.

It’s organic. Just like you and me.

Maybe that makes it human, or humane. Maybe we vibrate at the same frequency. I really don’t know,or believe that, but I do know that trying to make digital stuff not so digital, and a lot more human is the goal. The interaction I have with this little wooden thing is shockingly alive and that’s kind of the goal with digital design too. To make the ones and zeros seem to have life.

It’s been through hell [kind of]

Pretend it’s actually a rock. It would have started as a mess of haggard, sharp edges and through a process of getting bounced around and rolled downstream for thousands of years it would have become an almost perfectly smooth object that feels designed to be held.

….and I guess that’s the point. It’s not a rock. It’s not one thousand years old, the way bamboo grows it’s probably not even 3, and yet it pretends to be an old rock in a truly believable way.

Successful design = pretending to be perfect

So that is it. Design, for me, is about taking a rough idea and smoothing it down into seeming perfection. The truth is that I’ll never get all the time I want, never the rounds of revisions, never perfect.

Perfect designs will always be pretending. What matters is how believable the perfect is.

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