Timeless Design

So far, no one has put a number on timeless design as far as years are concerned; how long does a design have to last to be called timeless? For this reason I don’t believe in timeless design rather I believe that design can be timely. Sure, a good design can last for three generations but I believe that one day or time it will fade into the background and transition gracefully into vintage. Examples of industrial designs that have stood the test of time so far are: the piano(300 years and counting), the rounded clock, the fork and knife and even the mundane plate; In graphic design we have a number of logos that are no competition to the industrial designs but have lasted long enough to be considered `timeless’. Such examples are: Coca cola, Apple, BMW, Nike, Addidas, Mc Donald’s so on and so forth.


I began by studying Dieter Rams, one of the world’s best industrial designers of our times. My research quickly lead me to discover Rams Criteria to good design which he formed after asking himself a very simple straight forward question, is my design good design?

Good design is:
1. Is innovative – The possibilities for progression are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for original designs. But imaginative design always develops in tandem with improving technology, and can never be an end in itself.

2. Makes a product useful – A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic criteria. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could detract from it.

3. Is aesthetic – The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.

4. Makes a product understandable – It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. At best, it is self explanatory.

5. Is unobtrusive – Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.

6. Is honest – It does not make a product appear more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.

7. Is long-lasting – It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.

8. Is thorough down to the last detail – Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.

9. Is environmentally friendly – Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.

10. Is as little design as possible – Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.


When I study all the logos mentioned previously and their historic backgrounds, I quickly understand that no good logo is designed vacuously, rather each logo has a strong thought behind it.

One such example is the Apple logo which was referred from the Biblical story of Adam and Eve; the apple represents the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, with a pun on `byte/bite’. Rob Janoff, the logo designer, said in an interview that though he was mindful of the `byte/bite’ pun (Apples slogan back then; Byte into an apple), he designed the logo as such to “prevent it from looking like a cherry tomato.”

Another good example is the BMW logo; its medallion represents a propeller of a plane in motion, and the blue represents the sky. This is because BMW has built engines for the German military in World War 2.

Other than a good thought behind a logo, execution is paramount and so far I have noticed a simplified approach to `timeless’ logo design with all these Key factors in mind:
1. Easily identifiable
2. Can be easily reproduced
3. Visually appealing
4. Target market is in mind
5. Unique

In conclusion, ‘timeless’ design especially industrial is birthed from necessity while `timeless’ graphic design is birthed from concept.

Here at Aksent, we deliver nothing but the best in design, making sure that our clients experience nothing but the best designs, second to none. We make it our mission to take our clients brands to the next level and add some 0’s to their bottom line.

– Aina Kiwelu, Creative, AKSENT Ltd