What is Good Design?

Our special product-design issue asks a very 20th-century question, one the Modernists asked with great ardor, but seeks to broaden the definition.

In a way, our special product-design issue asks a very 20th-century question, one the Modernists asked with great ardor more than 50 years ago. The original question, however, was preoccupied with notions of beauty and style. And while this month’s issue is concerned with aesthetics—how could it not be?—it does attempt to broaden the definition. We identify ten essential characteristics of a well-designed product, pairing each category with a compelling example. Our coverage starts with essays by Deyan Sudjic, John Hockenberry, Bruce Sterling, Niels Diffrient, and Karrie Jacobs. We address the ways in which the economic crisis is affecting design with sidebars titled “The New Reality.” This issue sketches out the broad outlines of how a great product will respond to troubled times. It won’t necessarily meet all ten of our criteria, but it will think hard about most of them. Consider that as our working definition of good design in the 21st century.

Essays on Good Design

The Children of Raymond Loewy
By Deyan Sudjic

Within the Product of No Product
By John Hockenberry

The Real Driver
By Niels Diffrient

Product Panic: 2009
By Bruce Sterling

Rekindling the Book
By Karrie Jacobs

What Is Good Design

Good Is Sustainable
Good Is Accessible
Good Is Functional
Good Is Well Made
Good Is Emotionally Resonant
Good Is Enduring
Good Is Socially Beneficial
Good Is Beautiful
Good Is Ergonomic
Good Is Affordable

The New Reality

Motor City Blues
Graduating Class
Surviving the Storm

Categories: Design

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