30 November 2009

Keep it simple

Overcomplicating a design often makes things worse.
It's a real art (or some would call it science) to achieve the desired design and streamline it to where nothing superfluous is left.
Once you achieve that probably the design will hold.
In other words less is more.
I am guilty of often spending too much time over engineering a small item that could be simplified and made more efficient.
I often get inspiration from comments of other users to complete my ideas, like
while presenting my work at the 2nd Australian Sea Kayak Symposium where I gathered tips from the attending public.
It is a trap to have something too complicated and with too many features that in the end might lead to the failure of the primary function.
In the outdoor industry I admire designs like Arcteryx (a leading manufacturer of outdoor clothing and gear) where they strive to eliminate everything that is cumbersome and superfluous but at the same time achieving an aesthetically pleasing very functional product.
In my opinion, the exact opposite is North Face, also a leading outdoor gear brand.
Their philosophy is to add more features and gadgets where none could be added anymore.
Both are successful brands in the same field but they appeal to a different style/demographic.
I noticed more college crowds wearing the heavily advertised brand North Face while Arcteryx was worn by a more discerning mature outdoor folk.
There are many other brands out there but I wanted to make an analogy between these two clothing brands and sea kayaks.

How often I see novice paddlers impressed by kayaks outfitted with gadgets or wanting to accessorize their sea craft with those gadgets.

deck clutter?
I have been one of them and in some respect still am.
Boy, was I lusting after one of those deck bags: it would make me look like a real sea kayaker.
But the more time I spent on the water the more I realized that it's best to keep a clean deck since loose items are begging to be claimed by the sea or wanting to entangle you in the heat of the battle.

Fortunately that deck bag never made it “under the Xmas tree” .
Don't get me wrong, to some I am still known as gadget man and admittedly I go to great lengths to acquire (or fabricate) the perfect item.
My goal however is to have the least chance of that gear to fail while keeping bulk and weight to a minimum (I also like to stow most items under the deck, these days)
A project of mine can see design, test, redesign and retest to lead occasionally to an abandoned project if I can not pull off the two principles: sturdy but light/compact.
Less is more.

That leads to this coin:

How much simpler could a coin get.
It clearly says 1 rupee, and to reinforce the concept of "one" a raised thumb is depicted.
I would not call it a feat in artistic design but it's simple and clear.

It achieves its function: light, simple and economical to produce (unlike some bi metal coins out there).
Now, if only Fonzie would be still around to see that his signature move made it onto the face of a coin :-)

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