Soyez un luthier : Designing for Delight, Part I

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“Soyez un luthier.”

Be a lute builder.

And approach your designs that way.

A lute builder is a craftsman, a compelling combination of a designer and a builder, he looks at the product he builds like an art form and puts in immense care in perfecting each and every aspect of his creation.

The bow of a violin the luthier builds alone can cost up to $10,000 and the instrument itself can go into millions. But for the violinist who buys the violin, the cost is justified. It’s an investment into an instrument that both empowers and delights. The work of the luthier shows empathy and respect for the violinist and their skill. When the violinist picks up the instrument, before they even start playing, just by the way they caress the instrument and by the smile on their face you can imagine them thinking, ‘wow the person who built this really cares about my needs and has put a great deal of thought in making the experience pleasant for me’.

There is no reason all tech products shouldn’t be built this way – with the same care that you would put into crafting a beautiful, high quality instrument. A product that is built to draw out the best of people’s capabilities and just fits in perfectly with their everyday lives, empowering them to do their best work and delighting them in the process is the only kind of product worth building.

Throughout this series, Designing for Delight, I’ll examine a few interesting ways in which we can achieve this, by drawing upon insights from my own experiences with designing and building software.

We live in exciting times. Software in the recent years has grown out of it’s Dark Ages where it required the people who use it to spend a considerable amount of time ‘learning’ it. Today, as we design the next generation of software & devices, we should set our sights higher and aim to delight the user with the experiences we craft; just like Charles & Ray Eames did with their chairs, Dieter Rams & Max Braun did with consumer electronics, Philippe Starck with interior design, Walt Disney & John Lasseter with animated stories and Jony Ive did with the iPods, Macs and the iPad.

We should take our pleasure seriously, and let that drive our designs.

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