“The whole world looks different if you just put your chin in your hand and think.” – Designing Design
simplicity, “no frills” and functionality
nothing is everything
questioning is emptiness
the possibility of emptiness
emptiness is a treatise againts over engineered object
emptiness is a creative receptable
emptiness is itself a possibility being filled
“emptiness” that creates room for creativity and imagination
emptiness is not only nothing, its a creative receptable for many images. an empty vessel represents the eternal possibility to be filled, which become very rich, i think. its a great capacity of getting everything is richness
Emptiness – irrespective of who uses it and how – is the pursuit of ultimate freedom
The “emptiness” is also closely linked with the concept of ambiguity. “It’s like one huge, empty bowl,” Hara explained. “The bowl accepts any ideas and concepts. Our products carry that desire of communication, as well as a receptive environment which creates room for creativity.”
“Emptiness” as a design principle in Western culture is less common. Western culture is obsessed with specifics: bottom lines, literal interpretations, and hard results. Most Western commercial transactions are quite pointed in their direction—that of end purchase—and most advertisements are a gross overture to that result. But there have been instances of minimalist design that express an appreciation of the ideas of emptiness and its simplicity, such as those produced by TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles for Apple Computer. By identifying Apple’s core philosophy with the rebels and geniuses that changed the world by “thinking differently” (Figure 1.23), the campaign established Apple as the ideology of the future. Apple was perceived as saving the day by making technology accessible to anyone. This move repositioned it well above its competition and far beyond the status of “product” by connecting the user into a world of possibility.
“Simplicity is a concept that emerged in the West around 150 to 200 years ago. It was discovered after the arrival of modern society made complex patterns and decorations no longer necessary to symbolize great authority. Something is simple when form and usage are closest to each other.” Simplicity !== Emptiness
The first is the idea of “emptiness.” The idea of simplicity comes from Western contemporary design and takes a rationalistic form. But in traditional Japanese design, simplicity has a slightly different character. It is the simple form that gives users the freedom to develop their own way of handling an object. It is this depth that I call emptiness. MUJI essentially embodies this emptiness. For example, the MUJI mattress with legs can also be used as a sofa. You could also put several together to create an elevated floor. Giving users the freedom to use our products however they wish is what I mean by emptiness. We feel this is not something to be explained in words. Our visuals are designed to wake people to this emptiness so that users feel it the moment they seem them.
Japanese Zen gardens are very empty. The only things there are white sand and small stones. But this empty space [sparks] imagination in the people who visit; they have a conversation with themselves within the empty space. [To foster imagination—] that is most important point of emptiness.
“The result is design that at first appears to be simple and unspecial, but is in fact the reflection of a sophisticated approach and sophisticated thought processes.”
the result should be products that unobtrusively occupy people’s daily lives and provide reliable doses of small pleasure.
It’s minimal, unobtrusive, and relaxed
exformation makes people aware of how little they know
exformation is making things unknown so we can make the world more fresh, as if we’re seeing things so they’re all fantastic
to make things unknown is to make everything fresh
the japanese knife adapts to the cook’s skill, not a cook’s thumb
But our products don’t necessarily reflect SIMPLICITY. They are not supposed to serve a specific purpose of a particular individual in an efficient, practical manner. They are not supposed to serve a specific purpose of a particular individual in an efficient, practical manner. Instead of making different tables for different age groups and social classes, we make one table that would fit anyone’s lifestyle. Our table blends well with its surroundings, from a simple studio to a lavish house. It’s entirely up to the person who purchases the table to use it the way she or he wants it, regardless of who they are, what they do, and where they live.
To a western eye craving novelty many of their products seem somewhat under-designed: there are no logos, no distinctive characteristics that might serve to distinguish them from similar goods offered by competing retailers. It’s almost as if the design process has been cut-off one stage too early, just at the point when one might expect embellishments to be added to the basic, functional design.But that is the whole point: the end product reveals its worth over time in its essential usefulness. It can be adapted to the user’s own purposes precisely because it doesn’t have a strong personality of its own. It’s an ‘empty space’ that facilitates the user’s creativity.
In line with its mission, Muji defines itself by its pursuit of simplicity and functionality through its bare-bone chic product designs (Coco Master, 2008). Throughout its marketing collaterals, Muji positions itself in terms of three basic ideas: “Simple, Functional and Affordable” (Holloway & Hones, 2007).
Simple – the designs of Muji product are understated, plain and thus able to blend into the environment; Functional – Muji products are versatile, adaptable and useful; and Affordable – they are of good value (Holloway & Hones, 2007). Although Muji constantly positions itself as a mundane and banal, it is a paradox – it is precisely their symbolic production to be part of ordinary life which makes it unique (Holloway & Hones, 2007).
limited product palette of black, white, khaki, beige, and silver
Applied to the bento this simply means: don’t try to be fancy; don’t overdo it. A beautiful bento is done using seasonal ingredients; it is done quickly and easily.
‘No brand’ web design
I’ve been trying to think through how all this might relate to my own field of design, web design, the development of web interfaces. I don’t think there are that many to be drawn. And I’m aware that the ‘no brand’ concept is itself a form of branding: there’s no such thing as a wholly ‘pure design’ free of all signification. But I think there are one or two interesting things to note. My thoughts thus far:
A web interface should be designed with restraint. A website is a tool with a purpose, but that purpose should not be promoted too aggressively. Give the user room to breathe, time to assess, space to use the interface at an unhurried, natural pace. Don’t suffocate and choke through imposition of overly aggressive branding. Make the design as simple or as complex as it needs to be. ‘Emptiness’ is not quite the same as the western idea of ‘minimalism’. An ‘empty’ design might well be complex if that is what’s required. But that complexity will seem natural, unforced. Don’t cut essential functionality for the sake of misconceived minimalism. Take care with colour and typeface selection. Go for clarity, a sense of openness and space. Even neutrality. Try investing certain images with a sense of ambiguity, of intrigue. The Muji advertisement campaign was successful precisely because of the sense of mystery, of invitation, intimated by the selected imagery. Craft an adaptable interface that submits to the specifications of the user’s device: in a word, responsive web design.
“Designers don’t make things that serve people’s needs. Instead, we are supposed to make things that people did not know existed, and things that are so innovative that they’d want to buy it the minute they see it.”
Dieter Rams’ Good Design
Good Is Sustainable Good Is Accessible Good Is Functional Good Is Well Made Good Is Emotionally Resonant Good Is Enduring Good Is Socially Beneficial Good Is Beautiful Good Is Ergonomic Good Is Affordable