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The Pursuit of Perfection in Design and 5 TED Videos to Help you on your Quest

- Tuesday, August 10, 2010 |

Achieving beauty (aesthetic, artistic and conceptual) is a classic dream for us, creative designers and entrepreneurs. It's a dream about finding the balance between form and function, style and purpose, artistic expression and communication efficiency.

In design it is sometimes hard to find that balance. Design is essentially a social tool used to introduce a new idea, product or organization to audiences worldwide. Creative people express themselves through design because they want to be part of the process behind creating new products and services. Therefore, the general purpose of design is to integrate an idea or concept in a socially accepted and appealing form of expression (to attach a visual image to the idea).

If you do that correctly, your work is perfect.

Design is like the markup language of a brand image. It sets the mood and tone of your message, it gives your brand a personal and unique style before the magic of growing big happens and it clearly defines the way in which your audience will perceive you - everywhere, anywhere. This is the power of design, and this is why perfection in design can only be achieved when you truly understand who and what you are designing for.

Photo by: Simon Pow

There are numerous articles and resources on how to design state of the art websites, logos and more. We find really good ones on some the most popular design related websites (that you may know), like Abduzeedo, Six Revisions, Smashing Magazine and The Behance Network. But inspirational resources are neither the means nor the guides one should consider first in his pursuit of perfection.

In Design, Perfection Goes Beyond Perception

Perfection can be visualized, expressed and imagined. It is something that can be achieved gradually. When you are working on something that you are passionate about, every step you take is a step towards achieving perfection. When you finally finished your design and you feel it is exactly what it should be; it conveys precisely the message it should convey, then you have successfully achieved one level of perfection with it.

Maybe, instead of keeping too many unreleased works on your digital library shelves, you could really take a second look at them and try to figure out what's the message or the concept behind each of them. Be authentic, finish what you've started and, in the end, something will turn out to be perfect.

5 Inspiring TED Talk Videos About Authenticity, Play and Perfection in Design

For your pleasure and inspiration, we made a list with 5 of the "most favorited of all time" videos on TED, that are both insightful and useful. We thought these videos really help this point come across clearly: beyond everything designed, something is perfect when it makes sense to you, to us and everybody else.

1. Stefan Sagmeister's talk on Happy Design

This talk teaches us one simple thing: through our work, we need to stay in touch with what makes us feel happy and, if possible, help other people do the same. Our experiences impact our life, and our life experiences are reflected in our style. So why not take the best of it and integrate it in our work, so that every time we create something, it makes sense to us why we did it in a particular way or why we chose a specific typeface or color. It's like adding bits of our personality to the canvas on which we start building visual representations of the message we try to deliver.

2. Stuart Brown says Play Is More than Fun, It's Vital

Play is essential. It's the fun side of practice and it helps people refine theirs skils and abilities. But as they grow up, most people stop doing that, although they may substitute actual playful activities with something that still stimulates their brain in a joyful manner. Yes, that part is called entertainment.

The lesson we can learn from this is two-sided: not only do we have to practice playing with ideas, but we also need to understand that meaningful design is playful design, it's engaging and it makes people curious and happy. So play can actually be an easy way to achieve perfection in your work, as a designer.

Don Norman on 3 ways good design makes you happy

Don Norman speaks about how good it feels to have things that are both beautiful and useful. Make it fun for the user to visit that website, seduce him with things that he may not notice at first, but will always pull him back to your work, like a child to a box of candy. If the user goes "Oh, that's neat!" - isn't that what you want to hear? Isn't this better than "Oh, that is an interesting mix of bright colors and broken lines"? Yes it is. Why? Because design needs to be experienced. Learn more about it in the video below.

4. Marian Bantjes: Intricate beauty by design

Marian Bantjes speaks great words of wisdom that should resonate with all graphic designers all around the world. One needs to really to connect what they do with why they do it, that is, throwing a personal meaning in one's work. Individuality, written in bold letters all over your design, is more important than the desire to become popular or recognized in the mainstream media. You should figure out what words define you and what concepts excite and inspire you AND use them. Do that and you may just become "bizzarly popular".

5. Richard St. John: Success is a continuous journey

This is actually not related to design, but it is so relevant, we couldn't ignore it just because it does not have the word "design" in it. One valuable lesson we learn from it goes like this: do not ever stop doing the good job you did before you became succesful. We have said, in the first part of the blog post that you can reach variable and multiple levels of perfection as you design for various projects. Well, the fun part is that, while reaching those, you will have to continue to do that: success is only temporary, perfecting yourself lasts for a lifetime.

Endnote: The pursuit of perfection in design is not a distant dream. It is achievable, it is recognizable as a process and is repeatable. If this makes sense to you, then it's going to make sense to a lot of other people like you. So share these awesome videos with your friends and stay tuned for more brilliant blog posts from us!


Roy commented on 11-Aug-2010 05:02 AM
Thnx for this artical! The Ted's caught me in every way... It opened my mind and vision again about my own works and the way I worked or work. The key to succes is doing what feels good and not the paycheck, feel free and try not to follow the rules, let emotions guide you and flip the finger to common man.
Catalina Butnaru commented on 11-Aug-2010 03:21 PM
Hey Roy, Yes, being authentic and preserving one's personal style throughout one's work is essential and defining. We're glad you enjoyed the article and the 5 TED Talk videos selected.

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