Award winning architects from New York, Matt Burgermaster and Lucy Stoll of MABU Architecture, outline six principles of good design we should consider before making our next purchase.
Looking for the next item on your 'want list' (or looking for the perfect gift to top someone else's) but wary of simply buying more 'stuff'? When deciding between products, consider these basic principles of what constitutes good design and what makes something feel 'right'. Our consumer attitudes are shifting from "buy many, buy often" towards "buy one" - and these principles can help you determine what the 'best product' might be for you.
Photo: Caley Dimmock on Unsplash
one | aesthetics.
How does the product look and feel in your hand? Does it appeal to your personal definition of style?
two | functionality
How well does the product fit your desired wants and needs? In today's marketplace, we are inundated by choice; it pays off to take the time to research exactly what you need, especially for high-priced items.
How well will the product function in your space? Do its qualities complement or overlap with what you already own at home? Will it fit in your space?
three | craft
There's function, and then there's form. Consider the craftsmanship of your product. Is it hand-made? Produced in a factory at scale? What techniques has the company used to make your product? Are these techniques of the highest quality?
A mix of the three principles mentioned above constitute good design, and vary for each person's individual tastes. One could call this three-pronged definition the "traditional" view of analyzing product design. Today, consumers are increasingly holding themselves to a higher standard, and seeking out companies that match their personal values.
Matt and Lucy mention, "Today, there are broader criteria for what constitutes good design - a key one being sustainability. today, we think about a product's full lifecycle." As such, they have included three additional principles to think about when evaluating a product's design.
four | where it was sourced
We live in a world where brands and retailers offer an increasing amount of transparency as to where their products have come from, and how they were made. We support brands with each dollar we spend, so consider looking into where and how a product is made before buying it.
five | lasting power
A product may check the boxes for all four principles above, but if its quality fades or if it breaks down in a short timeframe, we have to end up buying something else all over again. Reading product reviews or asking friends who have owned the same item can give an indication of how long an item will last. If you're savvy, you can do some research into the materials that a product is made from as well.
six | repurposing or recycling
What happens to the product after it is no longer used? Can it be repurposed into a different product or be used for a different purpose? Will it truly be recyclable? Or does it end up in the landfill? If you're contemplating a purchase that has a fixed lifespan, make sure you think about what happens beyond its immediate utility for you, and consider where it ends up when you're finished.
Don't forget to read our full interview with NYC-based award winning architects, Matt Burgermaster and Lucy Stoll of MABU, and be sure to check out our editorial, The Pursuit of Happiness, where we talk about what it means to own 'the right things' in an age of heightened consumer consciousness.