reDesign Proposal: The Envelope

Famous designer Marc Newson was quoted in the WSJ arguing that design is about "a set of principles that can be universally applied to anything; the only thing that changes is material and scale. Fundamentally there’s no difference in designing a boat and designing a pen."

Borrowing on this knowledge, and because I feel a boat should require as little licking as possible, I have a proposal for the envelope (see image).

Why have we waited so long? 

I intended to end the post with that last sentence, but the design of an everyday object recalled an interview with Thomas Maier in the New Yorker.  

At Bottega Veneta, Maier designs men’s and women’s ready-to-wear clothing, along with housewares, furniture, watches, porcelain, and jewelry. But it is his leather accessories—bags, shoes, wallets—that are the label’s signature, and its best-selling items. In everything he designs, Maier shows an acute sensitivity to those infinitesimal irritants which most people can overlook. For instance, the coffee saucer at the Bulgari Hotel, in Milan, where he used to stay. “It drove me crazy,” he told me. “Every morning. You lifted up the cup and by the time you put it down—because the saucer was too curved up—the spoon had always slid down.” With a certain fierce pleasure, he pantomimed the entire act. “Now, in this hand you hold the newspaper, and with this hand you lift the coffee up and have a sip, and you want to put it down and you put it crooked on the saucer because this spoon is underneath. You drip half the coffee over, so that means you have to put the paper down, you have to take the glasses off, pick up the spoon—” He threw up his hands. “I mean, hello! Whoever designed that should have designed it right.”

Maier is obsessed with practical design to the point that it nearly debilitates him. The article describes him as "one of those people who want to erase every fault in their range of sight." And follows stating Maier describes himself as someone who "can't get happy" - presumably until all "faults" are eradicated. Even better is the journalist's account of the moment leading up to the interview: of his public-relations minions inspected me as if before a military parade, then plucked a microscopic piece of lint from my lapel. “Oh, God,” she said. “If that’s there, he won’t be able to think of anything else.”

Whether in print or in person, some of my most satisfying encounters reveal individuals so consumed by their work. It's nice to know they can't help themselves, it's just what they have to do.