Reading Response #1 (Sample)|
to Artful Design • Chapter 1: “Design Is ______”
Ryan A. | 2019.9.30
Music 256A / CS476a, Stanford University Fall 2019
From this week's reading, I'd like to respond to Artful Design Principle 1.5, which states:
—where means are “means to ends” (something that serves another
and ends are “ends in themselves” (something worthwhile in
The idea that some things are ends-in-themselves is pretty fascinating to me. Previously, I have normally just looked at designed things based on the needs that they fulfill, without much thought on why they themselves are fulfilling. I find it really cool that certain elements, such as the fact that the pencil case is composed of a single zipper, are so satisfying, even though they fulfill no purpose what-so-ever. Realizing this aspect of design, I started thinking about the apps that I use, the music I listen to, etc., and wondering why it is that I use/listen to them, opposed to the plethora of other options. And, most of the time, the main reason I do is not from a functional standpoint, but rather because I find them satisfying in themselves. I think this is especially the case in music. While music can be a means-to-an-end, such as providing a deeper message or telling a story, I find that most of the songs that I listen to are ends-in-themselves. I don’t play a certain song because it fulfills some specific need, rather I listen to it because the song itself is fulfilling.
In addition to this, I find the idea from lecture (and a principle from Chapter 8) that technology is not bad, good, or even neutral very surprising, but it does kind of make sense. For instance, I feel that a good amount of the negative feelings toward technology have resulted from the ways in which designers have used technology in unethical ways. And I also feel that if we can find ways to use technology that searches for the sublime, there will be a change in people’s attitude toward technology.
(Ge: these are great; I would like to have seen a more clearly articulated Means vs. Ends analysis)
Thing #1: Coffee Mug
I have only one coffee mug in my dorm. Of course, the main function of the mug is to hold the coffee that I drink every morning, but I believe that it is more than just that. The mug’s modest appearance, having brown and beige coloring and a simple design, give off a very calming vibe. And the fact that it is my sole coffee mug only adds to that minimalistic feeling. Because of this, while the mug has a very functional purpose, it has become somewhat an end-in-itself for me, setting the tone for my place.
Thing #2: Laptop
Although I use my laptop almost every day, I am constantly amazed with its sleek design. Its matte gray and black color combination give it a very clean and straightforward look. For me, this makes the laptop very easy to open up and start working on, with most of its software having a similar aesthetic. Therefore, my laptop not only has a functional purpose, but it also actively promotes this functional purpose.
Thing #3: Voicemail from my Grandma
The other day, I received a voicemail from my 91-year-old grandma about nothing in particular. There was no urgent message that I needed to hear, nor was there something that she was asking me about. She simply just called to say hi. And honestly, I can’t say that I really remember what the voicemail said, but just hearing her voice cheered me up and made my day a little bit better. The voicemail was very much an end-in-itself, beautiful because of the feeling and meaning behind it.
Last week, I spent some time in Las Vegas, where my sister lives. It was my first time over there, and I was astounded not only by The Strip, filled with casinos and music venues, but also by the incredible mountain ranges that lie so close to it. I wanted to text my sister and ask her for some of the pictures from the hikes and the strip, so I decided to do through the form of a haiku. This is what I sent:
When mountains met casinos,
I need some photos