One of my favorite presentations about design is an interview with Charles Eames, which inspired the exhibition “Qu’est ce que le design?” at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris:
Speaking for himself and his partner Ray, Eames answers questions from curator Mme. L’Amic on the nature of design. They cover lots of ground in the span of a few minutes. Eventually, they come around to the role of constraints in the design process:
L’Amic: Does the creation of design admit constraint?
Eames: Design depends largely on constraints.
L’Amic: What constraints?
Eames: The sum of all constraints. Here’s one of the few effective keys to the design problem: the ability of the designer to recognize as many of the constraints as possible; his willingness and enthusiasm for working within these constraints — constraints of price, of size, of strength, of balance, of surface, of time, and so forth. Each problem has its own peculiar list.
L’Amic: Does design obey laws?
Eames: Aren’t constraints enough?
Mme. L’Amic eventually asks Eames if he’s ever been forced to accept compromises. His reply is gold: “I don’t remember ever being forced to accept compromises, but I’ve willingly accepted constraints.”
The interview ends on an ellipsis. But before that, Eames delivers a great line:
L’Amic: What do you feel is the primary condition for the practice of design and its propagation?
Eames: The recognition of need.
The whole thing is worth your attention:
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