Feb 23, 2011

The Zen of Art and Copy

I read a very interesting article in the NewYorker a few weeks ago about Bottega Veneta Designer Tomas Maier’s point-of-view on good design. I believe these ideas apply to communications.

Before Maier took over the company in 2001, Bottega Veneta had moved away from its historically subdued design style and into loud logos and frivolity. Maier’s goal for the brand required stripping away the unessential parts of an item until all that remains is, in his word, “a certain nothingness.” His vision is evident in the brand’s now famous Cabat bag–a simple shape, made from the very best leather, handcrafted using a centuries-old weaving technique and free of logos, adornments and clasps. The style is simple, the construction is flawless and the appeal is lasting. Every year, the Cabat, unchanged except in color or leather treatment, is produced. And, every year it sells out.

Maier is consistent. When he was hired, he demanded total control over the Bottega Veneta brand. As a result, every bag, tag, product image, ad, and store design works together to reinforce the brand’s core essence. And, it’s a seamless experience. A testament to clarity of brand: Since he was hired, Bottega Veneta’s sales have increased 800 percent.

Maier’s philosophy–use only the best materials, cut out all excess and manage the experience–is extremely hard to do. Having a unique point of view and fortitude is critical. Steve Jobs does it with Apple products. Herman Miller does it with chairs. Muji does it with all their products. These companies echo the thoughts of Dieter Rams: “Good design is as little design as possible.”

Good communications follow the same formula–distill the message by removing all the extra information that doesn’t matter, simplify the design to the core elements and deliver a unified message again and again. This works whether you're a fashion maven, a furniture designer, a chemical supplier, or a pharmaceutical company. Simplicity works!