What is a 'good' design?

We recently spotted some of our work on social media. Our client Banlaw recently celebrated the 2018 Newcastle 500 Supercars with an open day at their headquarters. In the background, we noticed the exhibit we designed for them in 2015. It got us thinking about how good design pays off.

In fact, we think about what constitutes good design quite a lot. One of the ways that we assess whether or not our designs are ‘good’ is by considering how well they fulfil their functional role over their expected lifetime.

Banlaw originally approached us to develop an exhibition stand for them to be able to present their products and services at a trade show. The concept that we proposed, and which Banlaw eventually agreed to, represents good design for three reasons:

1. Durability
The custom shipping container exhibit has now endured two Pacific crossings on the upper deck of a container ship and travelled between Australia, America and Indonesia. At four years old, it looks as good as the day we delivered it. And that after months of being exposed to the elements at sea.

2. Usability
Not only has Banlaw been able to attribute successful sales contracts to the exhibit, they have also successfully conducted training programs with the unit. And now it’s being used as a conversation starter at their open day.

If you consider that the original intention was ‘just’ to be used as a trade show exhibit, we think this represents usability beyond anyone’s expectations.

3. Upgradeability
When we designed the exhibit, we knew that the products would be updated one day. Perhaps the corporate design or the colours would change. So, we designed it so that the graphic panels and product displays could be updated as they changed over time. But without having to change the structural aspects. And the whole thing can stay waterproof no matter how often you change what’s inside the container.

Banlaw’s unique exhibit has been at numerous trade shows and events over the last four years. We think it’s a good design because it is exactly as durable as it needs to be to deliver its functional purpose successfully. It delivers beyond usability expectations by being utilised in applications we didn’t expect. And because it can change as its purpose develops over time.

Design characteristics
Is any of this special for the Banlaw project? Not really.

All of these aspects, durability, usability, upgradability and more, are characteristics that we consider when designing products. It’s in our nature, and part of our design process, to ask questions like, who will use this object? For what purpose? Over what lifetime? What will happen to the product as its purpose develops over time? What happens to the product at the end of its functional life?

The Banlaw exhibit is a really nice example of getting great value for money through design because the product achieves more goals more efficiently.