I just read a really interesting article by Michael Bieruit over on the design observer. He talks about something near and dear to my heart as a designer- bullshit. Bullshit is the fine art of justifying decisions where no really good justification exists. Most people who know me will tell you that I am exceedingly good at this. Why? I don't know. Maybe it is from writing essays in high school history about popes and kings and famines that, in my mind, had no real relevance. From wanting to do well, and have my work accepted. Maybe because often when a person asks, "Why?", they aren't really looking for a specific answer. The answer itself satisfies. As product designers, one of the main things that we do is shape products through our own very specific view on how things should look. How they should feel. How they should work. When you cut through all the design speak and look through the haze of theory and symbolism, what you find is a design that meets the project goals in the way the designer felt most appropriate. It is about the personal taste of the designer, his intuition, and his very specific view on how it should be.
This is why products designed under Jonathan Ive look drastically different than products designed under Hartmut Eslinger. Razors designed by Dieter Rams look totally different than razors designed by Karim Rashid. Is one right and the other wrong? It depends on who's BS you listen to.
One of my favorite quotes goes like this, "If you can't dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with your bullshit." If we're honest with ourselves, this is true every time we sell a design. Our job at that moment is to convince the client that the product we've designed is right for them, and they want some serious justification. For some clients, telling them that we chose a shape because it feels right might not be enough. The client might need a more solid reason to embrace the design. In that moment, we have to pull out the BS. We can't lay it on thick, though, or we'll be called out. The goal is to blur the line between brilliance and bullshit because, in the end, what's the difference?