We interact with different design approaches from across the world through various products. This has been made possible by globalization. Because of the intertwining effects of globalization, modernism, hybridization and westernization on product design, the distinct aspects of different design approaches from across the world continue to feint. Most designers are more inclined towards meeting the needs of mass production for global markets, the result being a general homogenization of product design across vast demographic and economic areas.
However, it is not impossible to recognize an Italian suit or tell a Danish Coffee table from among Japanese furniture. Why? Because there are distinct design features typical of specific social-cultural origins.
In every category of consumer goods, it is easy to pin-point a certain brand with clear recognizable design features that are universally attributed to specific countries of origin. These specific design features are born out of a consistent design approach by the responsible brand’s product designers. Let’s visit some design approaches employed by major brands in some countries.
The Wow-Factor In Italian Designs
This concept employs the combination of excitement, fascination and desire of a product. The design seeks to add more refinements and accessorizing to a product beyond what the user really expects or needs, thus introducing a pleasant surprise that elicits desire to own it. The baroque architecture is a perfect example alongside other great works of art from Italy across several generations. This design approach by most Italian designers, results in products with three features. Basic, performance and excitement features. For example, one performance feature that makes Italian race cars more desirable than other race cars is that they are super-fast. The shapes, beauty and comfort associated with them forms the excitement feature. Similarly, Italian fashion is one of the most sophisticated and classy, and no tourist wants to miss some shopping time in Milan.
Dutch Minimalistic Design Approaches
In Netherlands, you find some of the most simple, yet eye-catching designs in the world. This follows a drift from the historical-art approach which is highly expressionist of culture in product design. Dutch Design is highly experimental and uncompromising on functionality. While staying up to date with current trends in design, the Dutch design maintains its uniqueness and simplicity in its innovative products. From Sony and Philips Electronics to Droog’s and Artisoft’s furniture, Dutch designs are a testimony of timeless, antique objects of beauty and uniqueness combined with the freshness of modern times.
Scandinavian User-Focused Design Approach
In addition to being minimalistic, Scandinavian design in general is known for being highly focused on user experience: It is a combination of functionality, comfort and gentleness with minimal accessories and utmost clarity of shapes. IKEA furniture and Volvo cars are outstanding examples of the simple but classical Scandinavian design. Architecture and interior design as well as website design tow the same line in design approach. This simplicity can also be observed in the features and functionalities of Apple products and packaging for hardware and software. The iphone and ipad are products of the Scandinavian minimalistic- simplistic design approaches.
The 7-Principles Approach To Japanese Design
Japanese product design approach is rooted in a system of principles (Zen) that guide designers in developing their designs.
Simplicity Or Elimination Of Clutter (Kanso)
This principle requires a plain, simple, natural manner of expression. Less emphasis is put on decoration while capitalizing on clarity. This calls for omission and/or exclusion of the non-essential features in a product. Beauty and utility should not be overstated or fanciful, giving a fresh, neat and clean overall effect.
Asymmetry Or Irregularity – (Funkusei)
The Funkusei focuses on controlling balance in a product or system through irregularity and asymmetry. The argument is that, nature itself is full of harmonious relationships that are asymmetrical yet balanced, which is a dynamic beauty that attracts and engages others as co-creators in product design.
The Japanese design approach focuses on articulate brevity and the resulting designs are beautifully simplistic and minimalist. No elaboration of decorations or functionalities.
This reflects on the energized calm in Japanese design approach.
Break From Routine
Designs that transcend the conventional and are free from habit or formula characterize the Japanese design industry. This encourages innovativeness and creativity.
This principle is founded on the cliché of ‘Show more by revealing less’ and is highly employed in photography.
This principle points at employing more realism in product design. The design should be devoid of pretense or artificiality and displaying full creative intent.
- Theories behind Japanese Design by Brian Ling