dinner 2

What do we mean by ‘Good Design’:

Dinner 2: Friday, September 4th



The aim for this dinner event is to explore what we mean by good design. We hope to collect both personal and professional experiences in an attempt to understand the subject more fully.

We would like you to simply think of an example of good design and an example of bad design that you have personally experienced. These can be objects, services, systems, experiences or whatever.

We would also like you to think about non negotiable fact you think of when judging whether it is a good design or bad. For example:

Alice Rawsthorn (design critic for the New York Times ) – when talking about good design she mentions the idea of a non-negotiable fact.  For her, “Whatever it is, and whatever other great qualities it has, it can’t be well designed if it doesn’t do something useful” – thats her non-negotiable fact!

Its clear that the idea of ‘Good Design’ means different things, to different people and in different contexts.

Deyan Sudjic author of ‘The Language of Things’ noted that:

Design seems to be about engineering desire”, that

We buy new kitchens because we dream about the family life they might represent”

He asks therefore if good design is something sinister – the ability to coerce people into wanting it or is it something that can express the spirit and give value to people’s lives?

Arthur Drexler, who was the curator and director of the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, did not collect many pieces of contemporary design as he found their purity of form was often spoilt by purely commercial reasons.

While for some, good design is a verb, not just a noun. Its about identifying problems, discovering solutions and, importantly, making them real.

In the 1980’s Dieter Rams notices that the world around him was become an “impenetrable confusion of form, colour and noises”…so he asked himself “Is my design Good design”. In response he came up with the “10 commandments” of good design.

According to him Good Design should be:

Innovative and make a product useful (functionally, psychologically and aesthetically). It is aesthetic and makes a product understandable – at best self explanatory. Design is unobtrusive-neither decorative nor a work of art and leaves room for users self expression. It is honest, long lasting and thorough. It is environmentally friendly though out its life cycle and ultimately Good Design is as little design as possible.

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At the core of the Dinner Dialogue project is an investigation into how food can bring people together and facilitate conversation.  For our second dinner we created a cold buffet menu – to see how this supported the evenings conversation.

We created three centre pieces to hold the food so the guests could help themselves during the conversations. The thinking was that this informal approach would make people feel relaxed and at home and free to participate in the chats.  We had also thought that the evening would benefit from not being interrupted by changing courses.

Another key concern for us was the overall styling – how can we create an environment that helps to bring people into the evening more.  By creating specific tableware for people to interact with and a strong visual identity we hoped to engage our guests fully in the evenings proceedings.




With the Dinner Dialogue project we wanted to explore different methods of documentation. While each evening is themed – we try to find a balance between letting the conversation flow and staying approximately on topic.  By creating the right conditions we hoped to facilitate a conversation that would lead us to interesting outcomes and unthought places.  The question is then how best to record this and disseminate the information?

For this dinner we had a professional note taker record the proceedings, you can download the pdf here: