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Design to Move

Posted on Tuesday, May 15th 2007

I wrote a very popular piece 2 years back called Hey CEO: Do you know how to dress? In the interim 2 years, Design has become a critical and celebrated element of business success. Business leaders have started paying attention. Nerds have started getting intrigued by right-brained creativity, even though they don’t quite understand the Science of Art.

These last 3 weeks, I have been in Europe, looking at great designs – both from the past, and also cutting edge, modern designs. I will write more about that as I gather my thoughts, as well as post some pictures.

Meanwhile, you have been reading my very personal story, As India Builds, lamenting India’s relentless architectural destruction. In this story, for the first time, I have talked about my own history, which perhaps explains some of my extreme and unapologetic sensitivity to design and style. [Two follow-on pieces to these are, India’s Real Estate Boom and Architecture, and Heritage Hotels].

And, you have been reading Dominique’s writings on how design commands premium pricing:

* Teaching Design in Business,
* Tasteful Design = Premium Pricing,
* Crisp Design Enjoys Premium Pricing,
* Apple: End-to-End Design,
* Airline Experience: End-to-End Design, and
* Design can carry a Brand.

I have also pointed you to a few brilliant pieces of architecture, as designs that have moved me:

* I.M. Pei’s Miho Museum,
* Louis Kahn’s Dhaka Assembly,
* Frank Gehry’s new IAC HQ, and
* Frank Lloyd Wright’s Xanadu Gallery.

I have also cited as examples,

* an Alessi vacuum cleaner,
* a Noguchi lamp & a table,
* a Terence Conran chair,
* Bang & Olufsen Speakers,
* a Sydney Lynch necklace,
* a Deborah Krupenia pendant,
* a Reiko Ishiyama brooch,
* the Chanel No. 5 box,
* an Issey Miyake watch and
* an unknown fabric designer.

Dominique and I are both absolute suckers for great design. I am sure we will continue exploring the topic in the future. Meanwhile, I want to leave you with a mention of my favorite style icon, Audrey Hepburn, and a quote from Albert Einstein, whose biography I am reading now:

“Formal symbolic representation of qualitative entities is doomed to its rightful place of minor significance in a world where flowers and beautiful women abound.”


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So, what is YOUR design philosophy?

Sramana Mitra Thursday, June 14, 2007 at 6:36 PM PT

[…] discussed Design Philosophy earlier. Recently, I asked around for people’s design philosophies, and here’s one […]

Sramana Mitra on Strategy » Blog Archive » Design Philosophy? Saturday, June 23, 2007 at 7:19 AM PT

Yes I do think about my design philosophy! Right now, I am searching for that thread that will run through all my work that truly makes it “mine.” Being a young practitioner, I really spend most of my time working on other’s projects, and helping get their ideas implemented, and inject my own when I get those chances. I also find that I am a bit of a pragmatist in my design work- using whatever style or answer to a problem that “works” at that point in time, in a given site. I think most other young designers are the same way as well, until they find that underpinning philosophy that guides their work. Most designers do not find that unifying philosophy until much later on in their careers. Louis Kahn almost never found it before his death, Peter Walker found his Minimalism when he went back to Harvard to teach after practicing Modernism for almost 20 years. Walker is probably now more of a Postmodern Pragmatist as his current work does not appear as Minimalist as before.

I am also interested in philosophy and worldviews and how they affect design & the arts. It has been remarked before that artists are the philosophers’ popularizers, making their ideas more palpable to a wider audience. I have also heard it remarked that the marks of a person’s creativity are a direct reflection of their worldview. I have some fledgling work in this vein, and can share it with those who are serious about reviewing it and providing feedback.

Thanks for raising the question!


Daniel Ashworth, Jr. Sunday, November 18, 2007 at 10:16 AM PT

Thank you for your thoughts, Daniel. It is indeed a challenge for people to balance their own vision and clients’ visions in design oriented professions.

Have you studied how I.M. Pei and others managed to handle that tension? After all, they did not become famous and established overnight.


Sramana Mitra Sunday, November 18, 2007 at 3:51 PM PT

[…] Sramana Mitra Blog […]

Jeni’s Design Diary » Blog Archive » Finding my way back Thursday, March 13, 2008 at 5:51 PM PT

[…] page is upon request from a reader. He wanted to see all my “Designs That Move” examples in one page. If you haven’t “experienced” these designs, you […]

Top Ten Designs That Move - Sramana Mitra on Strategy Friday, July 11, 2008 at 6:44 PM PT