Good Enough The case for plainness.

Good Enough The case for plainness.

Issue 49

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Design

  • Words Alex Anderson
  • Photograph Christian Møller Andersen

It’s a mistake to believe that the primary goal of design is beauty. Aesthetic satisfaction is, and should be, a byproduct. MUJI, the successful Japanese product design company, has confidently accepted this idea: Rather than relying on visual enticements to capture customers’ attention, MUJI produces what it calls “quality goods” that it feels are better characterized by terms like “simplicity” and “emptiness” than by “beauty.” The company’s three-word motto, “This will do,” underlies its approach to aesthetic considerations. It is up to the consumer, says MUJI, to fill its products with their own feelings.1

This reasonable stance toward product design might seem unusual in a discipline so committed to the visual, but it isn’t new. The early modern Austri...

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