‘Good design is obvious, great design is transparent’.
I came across this quote some time ago and have had it in the back of my mind pondering its meaning. I have come to a conclusion that for me this quote means….Good design is obvious, it has accountability, and great design is transparent because it functions in a manner not evident to the user whereas by contrast bad design has no accountability nor does it function well. Let me explain myself.
Three different homes I’ve owned have been 2-stories. Three bedrooms and a bathroom on the second floor. Makes sense, very standard. Obvious good design. But where great design should have been transparent was the bathroom door not located at the top of the stair directly in line (and view) of the front door. Instead in all three homes the house was designed so that the front door, stairs and bathroom door were all aligned so that when you sat on the toilette or stepped out of the bathtub you were in plain sight of anyone who came to call at the front door. And you know that doors are always left open. Terribly embarrassing. Where was the design accountability because this layout certainly had poor function? What was the designer, architect or builder thinking or rather not thinking when they planned the house?
In my recent home we renovated the bathroom (see my post – My Bathroom Reno) and tore the bathroom wall down to move the bathroom door over so that it was not aligned with the front door. Great idea. Now, no one will ever now that the bathroom door was ever in the wrong place because ‘great design is transparent’!