An exploration of the question why design?

“Jobs”, the recently released movie of the story of visionary Steve Jobs, offers much about design to consider.  We are living in the midst of a renaissance where design focus reaches everything from soap (Method) and thermostats (Nest) to babyfood (Plum organics).  A design-centric culture where design influences us in every day-to-day encounter.  Steve Jobs got it right with just about everything he touched but his statement “We’ve got to make the small things unforgettable” was prescient when referring to even the most minute details in computer design – fonts.  

Individualize by Design

Looking at the opportunities to individualize by design, I find there is no product, no surface, no aspect of our lives untouched by this tsunami of design.  Sometimes this impulse to design serves to reinforce an impression of status or income level.  But beyond status, there is beauty inherent in good design.  In a strict sense, I view design as problem solving.  Providing function.  Addressing needs.  But an elegant solution is different than a rudimentary one that merely serves the same purpose. In home decor and design, the myriad choices available to individualize are stunning.  “The details are not the details. They make the design.“ concludes Charles Eames, agreeing, it would seem, with Steve Jobs.

Let’s take a look at design in our homes.  Beyond function, ‘the details’ add ways to stand out and offer unforgettable visual moments to savour.

Office with brown chair, white shelving with miniature tables, small art pieces, by Judith Taylor Designs

Home Office Design

A stroll through your local office supply store and you are wowed with an array of specialized technology – all to enable us to individualize our home office environment.

living space with off-white textured walls, off-white credenza with eclectic art sculptures, modern art deco lamps, artificial tree by betsy burnham

Millwork and Joinery

Molding by highly skilled craftsmen is in heavy demand. The more detailed your walls, the more expensive and high-end the look in a traditional home and even in a contemporary room like this.
patterned wood grain furniture contemporary by Mark Hickman Homes

Joinery has always been a showcase for fine craftsmanship. This beautifully rendered countertop sets the bar high for new entries in innovative ways to connect two pieces of wood elegantly.

 traditional dining room by Alan Mascord Design Associates Inc

Fabrics and Upholstery Design

Upholstery too provides a blank canvas for trims, fabric, pattern placement options, wood trim finish options, accessories like welting, nail heads, ferrules (the metal foot options seen with or without casters).

 contemporary bedroom by SPACE Architects + Planners

Walls and Floors

The options for personalizing your walls are limitless. Should you paint? Why just paint when you could wallpaper, apply wall tattoos, stone or wood veneer, Venetian plaster, faux finish (yes, they are making a re-entry in home design trends), murals, mirrors (note the ceiling medallion too!).

contemporary laundry room by Barroso Homes

Floors too – stone, tile, hardwood, cork, and even leather! You can get a custom look even if you start with big-box store basic materials like these handsome stripes …

traditional bathroom by Structure Home

. . . or monograms.

traditional kitchen sinks by Mark Hickman Homes

You won’t find this custom sink in any store.

modern entry by Streeter & Associates, Renovation Division

No two entryways are the same . . . just like people.

contemporary staircase by Ben Herzog

Details and Design

Beautifully articulated stair railing is closer to poetry than decorating.

eclectic staircase by CapeRace Cultural Adventures

Every step. More surfaces are ready for you to personalize at every step you take . . .

wrist tattoo with text, 'inspiration' by Judith Taylor Designs

No surface unadorned. … including you.

Design is as old as humanity. In a population which demonstrates an ever increasing sensitivity to the place of design, is there a place for the unembellished?