What is ‘great design’ to me?

A recent task at art school was to bring in an object that we thought exhibited ‘great design’. So, I brought in my favourite mug. 

Why do I like this design?

My favourite thing about this mug is the practicality. I often find when drinking coffee or hot chocolate or tea, it needs a midway stir. This mug provides a spoon to do this with and a holder to put the spoon afterward so that no surfaces are dirtied.

The general criticisms of the mug were to do with the aesthetic – the green spoon doesn’t quite match the green on the inside of the mug and the mug has ‘coffee’ written on it. Why should a mug tell you what to put it in? I do agree with these comments and the aesthetics of the mug have never been my favourite. But, for me, the great design of this mug comes from the functional aspect of it. Maybe I was blinded to the aesthetics of this mug because of its sentimental value to me. It is still my favourite mug.

But what is great design?

In the London Design Museum there is a sign that discussed what great design was. It read:

“In the 20th century the Modernists believed that good design was about usefulness – how well an object performed its function. For others, good design is less tangible. It might be something that is capable of provoking an emotional response – perhaps through beauty or wonder. What is good design is open to interpretation.

Many people share belief that there is a moral or ethical component to design, and that design can be responsible for enriching our lives or ‘doing good’ in the world. However, if good design can improve our world then presumably bad design can harm it. This highlights the moral responsibilities of designers, and of the people who use their work.”

In my opinion, I agree with the statement that great design is interpretive. I think it is completely user dependant. There is no design that is ‘one size fits all’ and everybody’s taste is different. We all share different opinions. Granted, the aesthetic of my mug isn’t the prettiest design but the mug suits my needs; it works for me. And that’s why I thought it was great design.


Great Glasgow Design

I have decided to start the Glasgow entries with a piece or iron work that hundreds of people walk past each day but may not always notice. Sitting at the very top of a building, you have to take a second and look up to see it. This afternoon, in the autumn sunshine, I decided to take a trip into the city centre to visit the Princes Square Peacock. 

Located on Buchanan Street sitting upon the wall of the Princes Square shopping centre, the peacock is a decorative piece or metal art. The ironwork continues down the walls of the building in the form of feathers and leaves. 

Hugh Martin & Partners were commissioned to renovate the Princes Square building in 1985 and held meetings with Alan Dawson to design the decorative art around the building. Dawson then teamed up with traditional artist-blacksmiths to create the Peacock. It was added to the building in 1990 after 3 years of work. The Peacock measures 10m high and 20m wide and was inspired by the Art Nouveau movement. Peacocks were a popular theme across work from the Art Nouveau period with many designers using them as inspiration and muse. Peacocks symbolise wealth, beauty and rarity, which I think fits in perfectly with an upmarket shopping centre.



https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/fine-feathers-the-peacock-as-d-108440 https://www.scotiana.com/art-nouveau-peacock-on-princes-square-shopping-center-in-buchanan-street-glasgow/

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