Nothing lasts forever, and design is no different. Tastes change, styles evolve, and what was once the pinnacle of design brilliance can tomorrow become out of date, retro, or antique. There is much to be said about creating ‘timeless’ designs that can remain in good taste throughout the ages, but despite many attempts, few designs manage to reach this fabled immortality. What is it that makes a design last? How have some styles of architecture, graphics, forms, and all else withstood the tests of time?
Lasting designs are those that do more than embody the design trends of the day but instead combine a unique aesthetic or form with evergreen design sensibilities that have driven good design since time immemorial. The first such bedrock is above all, simplicity. Good design is memorable, repeatable, and adaptable to many situations. From a simple beginning can spawn endless variations, allowing a solid design foundation to adjust in subtle ways to changing tastes. Making further use of color, geometric shapes, and creative typography to give a feeling to a design is what can allow consumers to form attachments to the marks and forms of a product, beyond its utility.
These principles are embodied in many older designs and brands that have remained relevant and modern, despite the antiquity of their marks and product’s origins. Avoiding the label of ‘retro’ or ‘old-fashioned’ is a difficult thing for any design that seeks to survive through the ages. This problem is often most apparent in architectural design, which by its nature is made to last. Once a neighborhood or building becomes out of fashion, housing prices can decrease and the place itself becomes undesirable. Other buildings however, become antique or classical with age, and their value can increase. While the age of these buildings can be the same, one matures, while the other degrades. For the architect, the use of evergreen design may determine whether the property they are designing can retain its merit in the long-term.
The world is an ever-changing place, with new designs and trends appearing all the time. It is the task of the good designer to not only keep abreast of these developments, but also to incorporate them into an ever-growing repository of evergreen design principles that can make a good product great, and a momentary style into one that can become immortal.
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