The Artistry of Inconspicuous Quality
What is good design? Something that does the job well? That looks and feels good? That’s environmentally and ethically responsible? That does something new with technology? That enables us to do something we couldn’t do before, or to do it better?
Good design does any or all of those things, and more. But it needn’t necessarily do them noisily or conspicuously. Some of the most inspiring design projects are so gentle and subtle that they go unnoticed. They are what I call “quietly good design” and, despite their modesty, our lives are the better for them. Here are some examples that I’ve come across recently.
ATLAS OF THE NEW DUTCH WATER DEFENCE LINE
He is the dazzlingly ingenious Dutch graphic designer who has reinvented the atlas by devising new ways of making complex data seem engaging and enlightening. Typically he does so by translating that data into clear, visually compelling images that we can understand instinctively.
That’s what makes this “Atlas” so compelling. By creating such a vivid picture of a centuries-old network of forts, bunkers, dams and polders, originally designed to repel invading armies by flooding large areas of The Netherlands, the book shows how it has influenced not just the landscape, but the Dutch way of life.