It Gets Better with Age

Tonight I watched Objectified on Netflix—ironically, while ironing—and spent some time contemplating the various man-made things we use on a regular basis. The documentary film by Gary Hustwit is a follow-up to his brilliant tour de force of typefaces called Helvetica, but this time focuses on industrial design and its iconic celebrities.

There was one moment that resonated with me, though. I think it was compelling in its hopefulness. IDEO co-founder David Kelley spoke of objects that get better with age rather than degrade with it, which is a design concept that is becoming more foreign to us nowadays. Using the example of his father’s leather suitcase, the leather breaking in over time, Kelley believes our propensity for flash-bang consumerism is pulling us away from passing objects down through the generations. And I think I may agree.

So how could we design objects that get better with time? What about user interfaces? Websites? How can we apply the principles of classic industrial design—that which was practiced by Dieter Rams, Charles and Ray Eames, etc.—to the intangible world of pixels and code?

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