Monday, May 13, 2013

What is good design? Lessons we can take from home and landscape design experts

“Entire art, architecture and design movements have been built on the question, What is good design?,” writes Melanie Warner Spencer in a recent issue of the Houston Chronicle.

In our field of marketing, advertising, and digital design, we also look to learn from others – in what Ms. Spencer describes as being “built, rebuilt, imitated, deconstructed, abstracted and reconstructed.”

I thought we could draw some parallels and lessons from her interview of a few designers and architects. Here are some of their views of what’s coming next.

David Lake and Ted Flato of Lake/Flato, award-winning architecture firm: “Good design always considers the larger problem, considers the larger context. Good design needs to make the larger environment a better place. We're also healing and mending an existing environment and trying to connect it back to that. That idea can go in many different contexts. In an urban setting, we think of the entire block and how that building can be a good citizen with the buildings around it. Good design encompasses a broader design solution. Good design needs to be comprehensive. Comprehensive is also about health.”

Laura Umansky, interior designer and owner of Laura U Collection: “Good design must consider three things: intention, function and beauty. Every decision that I make for an interior is carefully considered prior to presenting it to a client or including it in their home (intention). It must also be smart, useful and have a very valid reason to exist in the space (function). Lastly, the space as a whole should have special meaning for, and elicit an emotional response from, its inhabitant (beauty).”

Liz Lambert, designer and hotelier (her projects include El Cosmico in Marfa, the Hotel San Jose and Hotel Saint Cecilia in Austin and the Hotel Havana in San Antonio): “Good design is often about knowing when to stop. It is about finding a balance between elegance and simplicity, vibrancy and calm, old and new. It's about collecting objects that reflect your life experiences and your passion more than it is about filling a room. And for me, it's usually about letting the people be the color in the room rather than the stuff.”

Julie Schaff Risman, furniture and interior designer, owner of the Inside Story Design: “Your home should tell your story. Art and artifacts from your travels, collections and artful photos turn a house into a home and prevent the model-home look. Always add an organic element to a space: plants, fresh flowers, seagrass, shells and salvaged items breathe life and warmth into a space. Edit - if in doubt, leave it out.”

I felt these designers offered some good guidance, even for projects on my desk right now: consider the intention and function of the brand, then go beyond to tell its story in the context of the customer’s larger environment.

And most of all, know when to stop.

It’s time to launch.

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