I recently finished reading A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink, a book that supports the notion that right-brained thinking is the way of future advancement in any industry. Previously, (for the most part) the world has been ruled by analytical, straightforward thinkers. It was those with knowledge of numbers or systems that made the world turn. Pink insists that those predecessors have now paved the way for creative minds to flourish.
Pink separated the book into six different chapters, each highlighting a specific aspect of “R-directed” thinking. One chapter, specifically, stuck out to me. It was titled “design.” Pink explained that many companies have begun to recognize they are pretty much on pace with their competitors in terms of technology and advancement. With similar innovation levels, price generally follows suit, so the difference amongst these competitors comes down to aesthetics. Those products, atmospheres, or event marketing materials with the cleverest concepts or intriguing designs are the entities that remain in consumers’ minds.
After reading this chapter, I found myself noticing even the subtlest differences in design or approach. One example that stands out was a restaurant I visited with my girlfriend and her parents a few weeks back. I’d never visited or even noticed this hole-in-the wall establishment, but I’d go back in a heartbeat. It was an Italian joint close to campus, and the following aspects made the ethic culture resonate much more than traditional restaurants.
- It was SMALL and the tables were very close together. Now, I’m not Italian, but from what I hear, family is very important. So at first, these close quarters seemed loud and inconvenient. But the more I thought about it, I realized it was part of the atmosphere. It was by intentional design that this restaurant wanted people to feel a more intimate connection to the tables close by—almost like an extended family.
- They only served Italian wine and beer. This doesn’t take much explanation, but it was a nice touch and forced me try something new. I enjoy trying new things, but this gave me that extra kick in the butt to make sure I would not order Bud Light.
- We had unusual Parmesan cheese and red pepper shakers. I’ve never visited Italy, so this might be normal over there. Instead of traditional cheese shakers, the Parmesan cheese and red pepper were in open containers with little wooden spoons used to sprinkle the contents over our pizza. This really isn’t a huge deal, but my hat goes off to the employee who proposed that idea. I can use normal shakers at Pizza Hut, so to me this small touch made my experience more authentic and memorable.
It’s been said before, but don’t settle for good ideas. I’ve found myself trying to notice what makes designs different, why it was done that way, and how I can make my ideas more impactful. What subtle examples of great design have you noticed?