Design like a Pro: Make Designs look good
Updated: Jan 6
Are you a Product Designer or a Design Engineer? Most people can make something work how they want it after a few functional prototypes, some lucky ones like Nikola Tesla can do it all in their mind, but most of us mere mortals need professional design software or traditional pen and paper to make designs look good and work great, but how do we make our product beautiful in the eye of the beholder?
The British Arts and Crafts designer William Morris famously said
"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful" - William Morris
What is the Difference Between Engineering Design and Product Design
Put simply a Design Engineer makes a product that is cost-effective to manufacture and is easy and reliable to use, a Product Designer comes up with beautiful concepts and ideas that may not always work but inspire the next step in a product's technical evolution.
Of course, this is a huge simplification, there are multiple crossovers between the two and it would be insincere to both professions to separate them so distinctly. Think of a design engineer as the guy sitting in the office to get a product ready for production and the product designer coming up with creative and elegant new concepts that will please the customer.
How do you make a Design Look good?
The amazing product designers you see at the London Design Show use techniques as old as the field of design itself to trick the customer into thinking it's a natural item that's part of nature and not a commercial product. They use the golden ratio which is developed from the Fibonacci sequence.
What is the golden ratio?
The gold ratio and Fibonacci sequence are different names for the same thing. A mathematician tells you otherwise but they are generally used interchangeably. The golden ratio is an ancient code, but don’t need to be a mystic or professor of mathematics to understand it. You can see it all around you. You can see it right now.
Take a look at your arm, look at your big finger, and look at your hand. Most people’s hand span exactly the length of twice your index finger, but wait it gets better. If you look at your forearm, is your forearm twice the length of your palm? and your arm is twice the length of your forearm. Great, now you know the secrets of the great pyramid! Don't tell anyone.
The Fibonacci sequence is a numerical progression discovered in ancient times, it's recorded in Sanskrit texts, and modern recordings begin in 200 BC, attributed to the great Indian mathematician Pingala although in the modern day is known by the Renaissance mathematician Leonardo of Pisa who later became known as Fibonacci.
The sequence goes like this.
0+1 =1, 1+1 =2, 1+2=3, 2+3=5, 5+3=8 and so on, and so on.
The golden ratio is found by dividing one Fibonacci number by the next and the number is shown to be 1.61950 and that's all the maths we need to know to make people buy our designs.
The idea is that sequence is a naturally occurring progression and has been used for centuries to make man-made designs appear natural in the eyes of humans; to make them more desirable. It’s so common in nature that creationists cite it as evidence that an intelligent being created the universe and it’s their fingerprint.
Here are some examples of how to use the golden ratio in your designs.