Love + Hate 

I LOVE THIS KNIFE!  I love the way it looks.  I love the way it feels.  I love the weight and balance of it in my hand as I chop.  This knife makes my work of preparing meals for my family enjoyable. If I could afford to share it with all of my closest friends, I would.   

For me, this knife represents the real power of design – the power to elicit emotions.  Tom Peters, a business guru, has stated that design is “the root of Love and Hate.”  Yeah, I know, “Hate” is a strong word…but, his belief is that good design can make us love things, while bad design can very easily have the exact opposite effect.  A powerful claim for sure, but not far-fetched when you take a closer look at what he thinks. 

Every one of has been in a situation where we have had an immediate gut reaction to a room, a space, or a building that we just entered.  There is a feeling we get.  We utter comments out loud, “I hate this bathroom.  The tile is so outdated!” or “This is an awesome room. It’s so open and connected to that beautiful terrace.  I can see myself living here!”  This is the emotional impact of design.  It’s our internal response to whether or not a space makes us feel good or bad.   


The two images above show beautiful white kitchens (very trendy these days), but they both have very different feelings about them.  Some of us may love the comfort of the familiar farm kitchen, while others may find the simple and streamline modern aesthetic more appealing.  Guess what?  Both are right… it’s all about our Design DNA!

Good design taps into positive emotions, while bad design hits a raw nerve.  Good designers understand this and work hard to understand the “things” that will elicit the right emotions from their clients.  But, this is where it starts to get difficult (and for designers, fun) because each of us is unique in what makes us happy and in the “things” that elicit positive feelings.  

It is the designer’s challenge to reach deep into a client’s beliefs  and pull out the core of what makes them happy. In our office, we refer to this as our client’s “Design DNA.”  We use many “tools” to get to know our clients on a very deep level, from interviews and surveys to workshops and “beauty contests.”   Getting to the core is the first step to great design!


For more information on understanding the design process download our free guide, “5 Quick + Easy Steps to DESIGN.