The Best Design Advice is 200 Years Old

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Every once in a while something from the past becomes front and center again. History repeats itself, and all. Such is the case with John Ruskin. Never heard of him? You’re not alone. I first heard of Ruskin years ago. The article linked below brought him back into focus. Read this, then read that.

Ruskin was a real renaissance man from late 1800s who wrote about geology, architecture, myth, ornithology, literature, education, botany and political economy. Why should you care? Well, if you make things for humans he has same excellent advice. Take these two quotes…

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort.”

“We require from buildings two kinds of goodness: first, the doing their practical duty well: then that they be graceful and pleasing in doing it.”

John Ruskin

The essence of design is to create something useful, that serves a purpose. But that alone is not enough. The things we create should also be beautiful and desirable, because that’s where the real value is.

“If you cut corners on a design, or make something complex or unpleasing to use, you’re doing more than simply being a bit lazy. You’re telling the end user of that product that they don’t matter.”

Brian Millar

We must think about the consequences of the things we design. How will they impact the people who use them? What value do they have beyond the basic utility they provide? These are important questions for all of us. The article below is worth your 7 minutes.

Full Article on Fast Company