An excerpt from The Vignelli Canon:
“We are definitively against any fashion of design and any design fashion. We despise the culture of obsolescence, the culture of waste, the cult of the ephemeral. We detest the demand of temporary solutions, the waste of energies and capital for the sake of novelty.
We are for a Design that lasts, that responds to people’s needs and to people’s wants. We are for a Design that is committed to a society that demands long lasting values. A society that earns the benefit of commodities and deserves respect and integrity.
We like the use of primary shapes and primary colors because their formal values are timeless. We like a typography that transcends subjectivity and searches for objective values, a typography that is beyond times - that doesn’t follow trends, that reflects its content in an appropriate manner. We like economy of design because it avoids wasteful exercises, it respects investment and lasts longer. We strive for a Design that is centered on the message rather than visual titillation. We like Design that is clear, simple and enduring. And that is what timelessness means in Design.”
Clear, simple and enduring—the fundamental qualities of “timeless” design. There is an edge to the tone of this passage. It both challenges you and inspires you to lift your gaze a bit higher. Too often we are so deep in the caverns of our own product and process that we forget that there is a higher aim in what we are doing. There is more than the “quick win”, more than the “Google buy-out”—there is an opportunity to impact the lives of those who come in contact with our work. For better or for worse.
Producing an enduring product or service in a society filled with “instant” everything is one of the greatest challenges we face as designers. It requires us to resist the path of least resistance, choosing instead to wage war on corner-cutting, on mediocrity, on irrelevance and indifference.
Creating long lasting value does not happen by accident. It is the purposeful application of sensible design for real people.