I’m rereading Undesigning the Bath by Leonard Koren. I love the >> > and < << on the image captions. The design of the book is very simple—no sidenotes or footnotes. The arrows identify which picture is being referred to (even overleaf), and all of the images are full bleed. The body text, captions and end notes (not to mention the images themselves) provide a multilayered reading experience—skip the asides or don’t. Just look at the pictures. Peruse the end notes.
Wish I could get back issues of Koren’s WET magazine (something to look out for in used bookstores).
Koren's critique of “user friendly-ness” is relevant to the work we do at every day at Indie. “Beautiful is defined as simple, ugly as difficult.” (44) My favorite and most-used applications are difficult (and often ugly in their default states), but at Indie we're dedicated to making beautiful (simple) software. Our software is polished to a high sheen, lacking roughness (as Christopher Alexander would define it). There is a tension there—our taste as a company runs to the van der Rohe side of things.
Perhaps the roughness in our work is beneath the surface. Certainly, one can't naively apply Alexander's principle of roughness (or wabi-sabi) to software. So what makes software rough? I think it has something to do with how you have to adapt it to your needs. You have to wear it in like denim or leather—make it your own. I'm not sure there is any web software that has reached this level of depth. It's all so task-oriented, partly because of historical technological limitations and partly because that's what we need, right?
I'm in love with things that wear. Raw denim, good leather, stone, wood. Honestly, for all the postmodern glory of Apple's design, I'd rather have an iPhone that will look more beautiful a year from now than the day I bought it. Instead, my iPhone looks dated and worn a year in. So maybe the shift to repair rather than recycle needs to start with the skin of the device—why repair something if it'll still look dated? I want my Sandbenders.