Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Simply Stupid

When I saw this headline from FastCo, Simple Genius: The Lowly Egg Carton Gets A Rethink, I didn't have high hopes. I'm not saying "if it ain't broke don't fix it", but I am saying a lot of people don't recognize the inherent genius in the simplicity of the pressed cardboard of the common egg container. I remember years ago, a design magazine asked April Greiman to name a few of her favourite designs and she selected the clear styrene egg container for its "simplicity" and crystal clear case that allows you to see at a glance if eggs were broken. Balderdash. The clear styrene egg container is even worse than the one highlighted by FastCo. Despite being recyclable, it rarely is (at least in Canada where many municipalities lack the facilities to separate that particular resin) not to mention how many more resources and processes are required to make a plastic product.

I'm not going to disparge a student's design efforts or critique their work out of context, but I will critique designers or bloggers who didn't take the time to really evaluate something that happened to catch their eye. Often, the more humble design, the more successful it is and just because we've become bored with something doesn't mean it requires "a refresh" like a perfume brand.

In fact, the idea of a design "refresh" sort of bugs me, in that it's really a term from an design industry, "branding" that often eschews fundamental principles to focus on the superficial.

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