Pop Quiz: What is good design?

Recent comments lead me to believe it’s time for some remedial coursework. Pick one please.

Edit 11/23/12
Vizu polls have closed down. Below is a screen capture of the poll results.

Feel free to defend your decision. I look forward to it.

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  1. Elaine says:

    Sorry, Kathleen. I don’t really like any of these definitions, but I’m not sure what I WOULD like.
    I guess if I HAD to pick one, I’d pick the third one…

  2. Elaine says:

    Actually, my first answer was the fourth one and then I changed it to #3. lol. Especially if you are thinking in terms of critique of specific items in a collection, number four (any style that sells profitably) is the winner. My personal preferences have nothing to do with that. (But for myself and what I’d personally PURCHASE, #3 still wins.)

  3. Clara Rico says:

    I suppose from a business standpoint, it would be any profitable style. But, designs I enjoy and admire combine features I like with good fit. That doesn’t mean I can afford it or would buy and wear it, so my opinion should not be as valuable to a designer as their clients. In real life, only the people willing to buy the product should expect their views on style to be considered.

  4. Nina says:

    I chose option 2 but I wanted an option for any style that fits well whether I like it or not. Like is a personal preference, a good fit is a wonderful find even if it’s in pink fluff.

  5. Jasonda says:

    4… as much as I hate the look of some things, if they sell then clearly they work for someone else out there. Like Snuggies. Lord help me I would never buy a Snuggie, I think they are hideous and ridiculous, but I am jealous of whoever came up with the idea and understood that there would be a demand for something like that. We should hope to be so lucky as to to know our respective markets that well.

  6. Jinjer says:

    I don’t really like any of those definitions. To me, good design is design that meets a need very well. The best design solves a problem you never even knew you had.

  7. hjung says:

    When I start designing I must like the style otherwise my heart is not in it. My pride is the good fit and it should be have a price my customers will pay. so #3
    When I must design something what sells profitable but I do not like I can do this only for a while. Otherwise it will kill something inside me.

  8. Marge Rohrer says:

    I’m not sure any of the questions gave a clear idea of whether the design was good or not. But # 4 seemed the only one of the four I could even begin to agree with. In my opinion whether or not I liked the dress, etc. has no bearing on anything. As a designer it was delightful to see the play on the traditional cowboy shirt and the unusual cap sleeves. I am quite envious that anyone can wear the very fitted body but that is a totally different story. Linings can be such a “trap”! A lining for this would definitely have to be out of material that had the same stretch ability as the dress. I, personally, would leave it totally out. I’m not sure how many of your”do not discuss” that I have broken here but the question begs for subjective answers as someone pointed out. Therefore, I chose # 4, too.

  9. Judy says:

    I think it depends on your objective. If it is to produce things you like then #4 would not be the right answer. For me #4 would be the correct answer because I want to make a profit. I could not sell it if it did not fit for a profit. So that answer means a lot more than it says. I have produced things before that I thought were not pretty but they were made well. I would hate to just make things I like because it would be very limited. It can be hard to do something you don’t like but I do it all the time.

  10. Pam Erny says:

    The technical side of me wants there to be a choice that says, “when form meets function”.
    However, the entrepreneurial side of me voted for, “any style that sells profitably”

  11. Cherryl says:

    I’m with most of you, my mind went to a more subjective definition. My idea of good design is that the item is well suited for what you’re trying to accomplish. Good design endures and translates.
    If ten people like an item and they all like it for different reasons. That is a good design.

  12. Mary says:

    As this has to do, first and foremost with business, I would have to say #4. “Good Design” for a business sells. Period. I could like it all I want, that doesn’t matter. If the salespeople can’t sell it it’s not a good design.

    I would love to say that good design was something I loved, that fit great, but that would be very subjective. The best design is a very individual thing. That is also from the Ivory Tower side of the design world, but most designers are in this to make money, not to make history.

  13. Paul says:

    The answer is different for the customer than it is for manufacturer. It seems #1 – 3 were asked from the customer perspective, while #4 is clearly the manufacturer/designer. A few (not all) of the considerations:

    Does it sell profitably? (covers a lot of design/manufacturing issues)
    Does it generate the next sale?

    Do I like the look?
    Do I like the fit?
    Do I like it as much or more the 3rd or 7th or 10th time I wear it (or use it) as I did when it was still hanging on the rack?

    That said, I chose #3.

  14. Paul says:

    OK, can’t resist. If you think that good design is only proved by the selling: Jerry Springer and trash talk sells. That doesn’t make it ‘good’ television/radio.

    Good design has to sell, and sell profitably, but ‘good’ embodies quality as well as quantity. If you think ‘good’ is hard to define, try defining ‘quality’! We could be here for years!

  15. Gayle Entrup says:

    My answer isn’t included — to me good design is one that enhances or is flattering to the person who is wearing the garment.

    Who said multiple choice tests are easier to take than short answer?

  16. Liz says:

    None of the above.

    Good design is something that:

    – fits well, according to the current cultural standards of fit;
    – is fashionable, according to the current cultural standards;
    – is, flattering, according ….;

    The above applies to all garments at all price ranges. My personal opinion has nothing to do with good design, nor do sales figures — custom clothing can be well-designed even with poor sales.

    One other factor that is my personal opinion, is that good design is “honest” — the clothes are not slavish copies, and do not try to imitate expensive items at bargain basement prices.

  17. Bente says:

    Ok, if what sells best is the definition of good design I guess I have misunderstood some parts! And also; there is a lot of good design out there that I don’t like! It’s like saying that classical music is bad music because you don’t like it! So, I guess we need to talk about commercial good design instead of only good design.
    I just love to peak in at the MOMA store when I go to NYC because there I know I can get good design that you don’t find everywhere; clothes, decorative object, accessories etc.
    And not to mention some designer clothes that absolutely doesn’t sell well. It could still win prices for best design. Coming from a small country where niche design clothing designers have a hard time surviving because they don’t have enough buyers, you just have to compromise on design and make it more commercial to manage.

  18. Barb Taylorr says:

    There is an art class definition and a bussiness definition. I prefer to believe that there is also a space in the middle where those citeria overlap that drives most successful companies. However, I am sure we can all cite products where that is not the case.

    I love Paul’s comparison with good tv/radio!! In regards to Liz’s response, I’d counter that the artistic definition of good design must be enduring, still aesthetic, flattering & well-fitting, long after currect fashion trends move on. You may not still where it when it is 25 years old, but you will always recognize the inherent beauty.

  19. Chris V says:

    Perhaps I’m missing the point – I can’t answer this quiz until I know, good design for what? For sales? For long term recognition? for creating a timeless classic or for scrubbing the floor? Wouldn’t the ‘good design’ depend on one’s goal? Technically the best design would be one that addresses both profitability and style, which is sort of answer 3. Or I could be terribly over-thinking, as I am prone to do. Paul’s point is dead on :)

  20. Wednesday says:

    I like the wording of Answer # 4, because I feel the word ‘profitably’ (as opposed to ‘well’) implies that you have hit upon a design and construction process that maximizes return for expenditure. Any streamlining, efficiency or new way to achieve quality (which must be present if they’re selling) sounds like ‘good’ design to me.

  21. Sabine says:

    If I could give my own answer I would say a good design is a design that perfectly serves the purpose it was designed for.
    So, if the idea is to design something that is comfortable and sells well, then the good design would meet that criteria.
    But if you end up with an ornate silver spoon instead of a soft clunky one that babies can hold with their own hand…then the design sucks.

  22. Eric H says:

    McDonald’s hamburgers taste terrible, they will never sell.
    Oprah is boring, nobody will ever watch.
    Levi’s are poorly made, nobody will ever wear them.

    C’mon, are you designing things to sell them? If the former, there is only one answer.

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