There are a lot of things that can make a design great, but the one that I think is the most important and probably the most obvious to anyone thinking about design is that it should make peoples lives better.
This is of course a very vague and broad statement and can often be subjective, what improves one persons live may be an extraordinary annoyance to someone else’s, consider a toy fire engine with working sirens- a dream come true to the child that receives it but a massive headache to the parent it’s forced on.
The secret here being no design will be seen as great by everyone, it just needs to be seen as great by someone.
There is of course a vast spectrum of what it can mean to ‘Better’ someones life. A life can be bettered by simply making someone laugh or smile when they look at or use something, or it can be bettered by allowing someone to do something they have never been able to do before or by actually saving someones life.
At the bottom of the ‘Making Lives Better Spectrum’, where we aim to simply ‘delight’, are things such as suave mugs and fluffy rugs. These are things that are simply nice. They make a room look a little cosier or a home more inviting, they give us something to show off or allow us to make someone happy by giving them as a gift. Although these objects are unlikely to completely change someones life, they will make them smile at least once and in the case of mugs allow for the drinking of tea, an essential component of happiness.
At the other end of the spectrum are the world changing, life saving kind of products like the portable defibrillator. Products that have been designed to solve important problems. These are products that are designed to make lasting impacts on the people who require them.
So what is great design? Well at first glance great deign is simply anything that makes lives better, whether in big ways or in little ones.