Functional Design

The internet has done a great job of showing the world the endless possibilities of every facet of design that you can possibly fathom. Actually, I believe that the recent explosion in variety of design concepts has been fostered by the internet. By this I mean that now designers can easily see what other artists and designers are doing. This isn’t only helpful for people who want to emulate others. It’s also extremely stimulating and inspiring to see the level at which your peers are operating.

How Is Functional Trendy?

The ‘Functional Design’ trend really isn’t a trend at all. This is the way that designers have been creating products all along! However, in a time where all types of design concepts are being explored (some more functional than others), there has been a yearning to create things that are more immediately useful to the end user. Functional design focuses on simplifying the overall structure of products. It demands that every piece or component has only one responsibility. This simplifies the design process, especially when working together with a team of professionals to create a single end product. You have to admire this design concept if not only for its conciseness.

Consider The Goal

There are a few key concepts to consider when designing within the ‘functional design’ framework. The first being the end goal of the product. The design of the average claw hammer is a good example. When you first look at the product, it’s very self explanatory. Not only as far as what the goal of the tool is, but also in the method of use. The claw hammer is such a simple and obvious design it’s actually become a symbol of construction work itself. If you were to see an icon with a hammer on it, you would understand that it has something to do with construction or building of some kind.

Basic Claw Hammer
Credit: WtTool.com

Think About the User

One of the chief concerns when creating any product is the end user. How will they be using it, where will they be using it, and most importantly who are they? Those are all very important questions that you have to be able to answer before you even get started with the design process. One of the objectives in product design is the ability for someone to pick up your product and be able to use it immediately, without reading instructions or doing any other research of their own. It’s obvious that sometimes users will need to read the instructions for safety reasons, but this doesn’t change the fact that many of the best products inspire even novices in the respective field to be able to ‘grab and go’. These same design principles apply not only to physical products but to the world of web design as well. We can all appreciate a website that makes what you’re supposed to do next very apparent. SuitSupply’s site does a great job of this. It’s very clear the moves that you’re supposed to make. This is a good example of catering to the specific user group that will be using the site while avoiding anything that’s unnecessarily complicated.

Suit Supply Website
Credit: SuitSupply.com

Don’t Forget the Feedback!

One of the most essential aspects to good user design is timely feedback. I was reading an article on another site that brought up the old days of the internet. Remember those? How about on an eCommerce site when they would warn you to only press the purchase button once or risk duplicating your order? That’s an example of poor feedback. Your product needs to be able to communicate with the user whether or not it’s working (or if there’s a problem as quickly as possible.) Some products are more effective at this than others, if not only due to the nature of the product itself. I have an uncle that works as a semi truck driver out in upstate New York. One of the biggest problems that they have in their business is keeping their trucks clean. Not only does a dirty truck look bad, but it takes time out of their schedules and money out of their pockets to clean them. This is why covering their wheels with semi truck fenders is so helpful to them. That is a perfect example of product feedback. It’s easy for the drivers to see if their fenders are working because they will notice how long it’s taking for their trucks to get dirty. If their truck is getting covered in road spray they will know that something isn’t right and needs to be adjusted.

Semi Truck
Credit: RedRockCollisionRepair.com

What Happens When There’s A Problem?

One of the final, yet most important, considerations that go along with functional design is problem resolution. How frustrating is it to the user when something goes wrong? A good example of the proper way to handle errors, at least in the web design field, is a website that offers a good ‘404’ page. A 404 page shows up when you arrive a web page that doesn’t exist on the domain. A good 404 page will acknowledge that something has gone wrong as well as offer a good suggestion on what to do next. My personal favorite 404 page is from AirBnB. Their page offers a funny animation of a girl who suddenly loses the ice cream from her cone. More importantly than the entertaining animation is that the page offers to redirect you to some of their most helpful pages. This ensures that there aren’t any “dead ends” on the site. That means that even if you end up in a broken link chain somehow, you will be funneled back into the site in a sensical manner.

AirBnB 404 Page
Credit: AirBnB.com

What does functional design mean to you? Do you have any example of great functional design that I may have missed or any aspects that I failed to cover?

Sustainable Product Design

Whether or not you’re worried about climate change, it’s obvious that we are reaching a turning point when it comes to environmental issues. Human beings have changed this planet in such a way that it is much different than it was before the industrial revolution. We’ve added an unprecedented amount of carbon to our atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels and our methods of animal agriculture. Not only do we have the issues of pollution via carbon dioxide and methane gas, but we have seriously damaged the biodiversity in many different areas of the planet.

Making A Personal Difference

There are many reasons to be nervous about our environmental future. However, it’s often better to focus on what you can do personally to help rather than constantly fretting over the worse case scenario. There’s really only so much that one person can do to influence governmental policy. With that being said, you do have the power to choose which products that you buy. ‘Voting with you wallet’ can be the best way to influence businesses to create more sustainable (environmentally friendly) products. Although it is important to do your research to determine if these ‘green’ products are as easy on the Earth as advertised. I’ve compiled a short list of products that have impressed me in their efforts to have a minimal impact on climate change and the loss of biodiversity.

Sustainability
Credit: Careysplc.co.uk

Recycling Friendly Water Packaging

You’re most likely aware of the staggering amount of plastic waste that is produced by the United States alone every day. A significant chunk of that waste is from plastic water bottles. While it’s true that you can recycling water bottles, it is much more difficult to recycle plastic than it is paper products. In fact, paper recycling is a much more effective process than plastic recycling. This means that it takes less energy and more of the material is able to return to the product lifecycle.

Many consumers are initially resistant to the idea of a paper water bottle. They may think that paper just isn’t the right material for the storage of water. Maybe because they think that it isn’t as clean as plastic or maybe they just want to see how “pure-looking” their water is before they buy it. But, let’s be realistic here. When is the last time you bought water and it had something in it? I’m guessing the answer to that is: probably never.

Paper is, in fact, a great material for the storage of individual serving sizes of water. There are quite a few different companies out there who are going after this concept in both the interest of sustainability and profit.

Paper Water Bottle
Credit: PaperWaterBottle.com

The Electric Car Popularity Contest

The concept of electric cars have been around just about as long as the automobile itself. Internal combustion engines have dominated the market for the last century for a myriad of reasons. However, it’s clear that we’re in desperate need of alternatives. If you’re interested in the idea of owning an electric vehicle yourself, then you’ve undoubtably heard of Tesla. Their fan base is quite impressive, yet not unwarranted in the slightest bit. Elon Musk’s vision for their vehicles can take a good amount of the credit for revitalizing public interest in electric vehicles. They have achieved this through high-end styling, the latest technology, outstanding safety features, and incredible performance. Before Tesla became a part of the public consciousness, the most common mental image that a person had of an electric vehicle was the extremely ‘un-sexy’ Toyota Prius. Going along with that image, people generally viewed electric vehicles to be slow and just plain boring.

Tesla’s Model S did a fantastic job of smashing the preconceived ideas of what an electric vehicle can be. In fact, many people are surprised to hear that the Model S is faster than any gasoline powered vehicle (the top of the line Model S vs. production gas powered vehicles, this is). The true benefit to this explosion of interest in the Tesla brand is that they are literally creating a new market that has never existed on this scale before. While it still creates pollution to produce these vehicles in many different aspects, they are a large improvement over gasoline powered vehicles. Areas that hold large concentrations of vehicles are typically choked with all of the emissions from traditional vehicles. Electric vehicles don’t have any emissions coming directly from the car, so they’re much healthier to be near for city dwellers.

The best part about the design of the Tesla is that it is so enticing people without any environmental concerns at all are still attracted to the vehicle. It’s something that can stand out on it’s own as a good choice.

Tesla Model S
Credit: Tesla.com

Contemporary Home Design

I have a friend that works in the architectural design field. He designs high end homes for people all over the state of California and sometimes even exporting his designs out to other companies that work all around the country. I met him early one morning at Gold’s Gym in Pasadena, where I currently live. I was bench pressing alone (bad idea, I know) and tried to press more weight than I could handle. He happened to be paying attention out of the corner of his eye enough to be able to come to my aid in my time of great need and embarrassment. After he saved me from being squished by the bar, we got to talking. He told me all about his design career and how the market was really taking off in Pasadena. He showed me a few pictures of the houses that he designed and I was absolutely blown away. I was interested in modern design style before, but this really got my mind going.

Less Is More / The Minimalism Trend

One of the most appealing aspects of modern home design to me is the philosophy of “less is more”.  (All of this ties in very nicely with the ‘minimalism’ theme as well.) This mantra manifests itself as clean lines, open spaces, and a design that brings the attention back from the structure of the building itself. A feat such as that can be accomplished by a careful selection of materials and an even more careful application of those materials. Concrete countertops are a great example of this clean approach. Concrete can offer a variety of different benefits. It’s less expensive than almost any alternative hard surface, extremely durable, and can be finished in a way that is very clean looking. In fact, there are many cases where it’s actually possible for a novice to do the job herself, potentially saving thousands of dollars in the process.

Concrete Countertop
Credit: Deco-CreteSupply.com | Job by DS Construction

Kitchen Storage with Nothing to Hide

Continuing on with the theme of minimalism, I certainly appreciate design efforts that are directed at keeping the amount of physical goods in the house as low as possible. This is definitely not to suggest that storage space isn’t a must, while it most certainly is. It’s easier to explain this concept with an example. You will find that many modern home designs feature shelving where there would normally be cabinets. I’m already anticipating the eye rolling of many readers as I’m typing this. You’ll have to hear me out on this. Cabinet space is a must, but there is some benefit to having shelving where you plates, bowls, and the like are to be kept. This type of storage solution will help homeowners focus on taking good care of the essentials and getting rid of the extraneous items that really don’t need to be held onto. There’s nothing wrong with having one nice set of bowls and one nice set of plates. I’m sure that a good number of you have an eclectic collection of bowls, plates, and cups with no theme encompassing them whatsoever (just as I once did). Another side benefit of this storage method is that this makes things much more accessible for your guests. However, you will find that getting your unused items dusty is a new issue to deal with. We have to take the good with the bad – never forget that!

Modern Kitchen Shelving
Credit: MontanaPrarieTales.com

Open House, Open Mind

One of my most prominent memories from my early childhood is the smell of my mother cooking Churros Con Chocolate. My brother and I were playing in the living room while the smell came wafting around the corner. Our kitchen growing up was a very small room. The kids were usually forbidden from being in the kitchen while our mother was cooking. This was to keep us out of harms way and to keep us from driving mom insane! Now that my mother has passed away, it really bothers me that I didn’t spend more in the kitchen with her. Even if only to watch her make those delicious churros.

What I’m getting at here with my Churros Con Chocolate memory is that it’s good to have your family and friends all together. It’s a shame that my mother spent so much time and effort making her family delicious meals and yet she spent a lot of time being excluded because of it. The relatively modern trend of the “open concept” home is something that I enjoy on a daily basis with my own family. It’s hard to overstate the benefits of having a floor plan with little to no barriers between the main living area and the kitchen. Not only does this help keep the family close together while the kids are lounging in the living room while my wife and I area preparing dinner and getting a little bit of personal time.

Not only do open concept homes help keep families closer together, but they’re also excellent for entertaining guests. It’s a lot easier to keep the party going when you can have a conversation with you guests and prepare snacks and refreshments at the same time. I’m sure you’ve heard before that people tend to spend a lot of time in the kitchen when there are guests. It’s a comfortable common area that is much enhanced when it’s connected with the living room. I’m happy that I’m fortunate enough to live in a home that facilitates this type of lifestyle.

Open Concept Home
Credit: ApartmentTherapy.com

Welcome to the Wallpaper Vault

I’m happy to you’ve found my website. If you’re here, that must mean that you know a thing or two about good design. Or maybe you don’t. (It’s okay if you’re a beginner to the whole design world.) No matter if you’re seasoned design expert or if you just appreciate some fresh new design eye-candy – then you’ve come to the right website.

I will try to my best to keep this site updated with the latest and greatest trends coming from many different places in the design world. If you’ve used Wallpaper Vault in the past, then you know that the site used to be all about desktop wallpapers. I have decided to shift the focus of the website to a more broad design focus because people just don’t take the time to enjoy desktop wallpapers like they used to. Maybe it’s because they’re so busy watching YouTube videos or working to even get a moment to gaze at their desktop screen in the first place!

It certainly isn’t my job to speculate on the reasons that desktop wallpapers aren’t as popular as they used to be. I’m not the type of person that will get upset over such things. Instead of crying about no one wanting my desktop wallpapers anymore – I have pivoted to something that I like much more! In addition to nice looking desktop wallpapers, I will be sharing my thoughts on a curated collection of my favorite designs. Some of the design inspiration that I post may be images that I have taken myself while out and about. The designs that I cover in my posts may also be from interesting images or videos that I have found while exploring the internet, looking for careful design that really gets my brain going!

Before I get into my regular posting, I imagined that it would be pleasant to cover a couple of the different types of design that I will looking into with my site visitors:

Architectural Design

Building design has always been inspiring to me. I supposed you could say that I’m inspired by functional design in general. Art is lovely and most people surely appreciate it. But, there’s something to behold about an object that not only looks nice, aesthetically, but is useful to the souls that come into contact with it.

Rustic Tiny Home Design
Credit: TinyHouseTown.net

When it comes to useful design, there is a new trend that I have found myself to be obsessing over in recent months. The tiny house movement is sustainable and down right enchanting! I’m enamored with tiny houses because of the great deal of careful thought and planning that needs to go into the design of every square inch. When you have such a limited amount of space, the designer needs to be painfully aware of how the entirety of the space will work together (with all of the necessary elements that a home must incorporate, of course.) I will be focusing a lot on the “tiny house movement” in the upcoming posts. In fact, if you’re a tiny house hater, then you might be best served to click away from my little website right now. (Only kidding.)

Fashion and Textile Design

Similar to the functional requirement that building design has, clothing also presents a strong demand for the functional. Clothing not only has to look nice, but it has to protect the wearer from the elements. Saying that clothing has to look nice is of course a gross oversimplification. Clothing is more than just a random aesthetic impulse from the user. It actually works as a communication device, of sorts. The types of clothing that a person chooses to wear sends a message to their friends, family, and the rest of the world that has the privilege to feast their eyes.

Stylish Leather Boots and Jacket
Credit: Notey.com

They say that you can gather a lot of information about a person from the types of clothing that they wear. I myself find that clothing is a good indicator of not only a persons social status, but also gives many clues on the approachability of a person. While a strangers clothing may be sending subliminal messages, it’s important to not judge too hastily (which I’m sure that you’re already aware of.)

I will be taking a lot of time to meticulously dissect fashion in a very visual sense. Meaning that I won’t spend too much time on the actual materials being used to produce the end product – but with more of an effort to try and gather the meaning of the message that clothing is sending. What type of emotion is the wearer of a leather jacket seemingly trying to convey? (for example.)

More Design, More Love

This is only a very small subsection of what I will be covering here in my blog. I know that people will bring to my attention that this is supposed to be all about WALLPAPER (hence the name, duh…). I do reserve the right to cover whatever I find my wavering interest settling on. Stay tuned, design fans, there will be plenty for you to feast your eyes on!