"If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.” —Ralf Speth, former CEO of Jaguar Land Rover
There is no such thing as no design. It’s either good or bad. If you think you’re not making a definitive choice, you’ve already chosen a side.
Selecting an unknown font from a Google Slides text dropdown is a design decision. Choosing a primary color from the color picker inside Microsoft Word is a design decision. And picking a clothing outfit for your daughter to wear at her first day of daycare is a design decision that may or may not have happened two days ago.
As you start to add up these minuscule decisions, they amount to something Gestalt psychologists would be proud of: they are greater than the sum of their parts. Finding your style isn’t just a color or a typeface, but a vibe. Like a brand, style is about how it makes someone feel.
“Aesthetics is the language of feeling, and people value feeling more than information” —Marty Neumeier
This feeling is the combination of tens or hundreds of design decisions that a person or a company makes.
Choosing to recognize is up to you, but not choosing is still choosing.
Think about who’s style you love. To me, it’s Casey Neistat, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Oscar Isaac, Mark Ruffalo, Shantell Martin, Tom Sachs, and so many more. These are people who have owned their own style, and it’s not uncommon for you to recognize it from afar. Style at its core is about defining your own values, and what you love.
It’s not about signaling, even though at its essence style is a signal. It’s about sharpening your interests in a way that gives you a focused signal, which is more about defining a filter.
A defined filter is how Elon Musk runs Tesla, a $900B company. A Cybertruck is not designed for the mass market, but it is something he wants to see exist in the market.
Rachel Rodgers of Hello Seven has style, and it’s emblematic of any materials you can find online.
Craigslist has defined its style by maintaining its core values of simplicity and its utilitarian aesthetic.
Style gives permission for us to connect, and a way to let you opt-in.
More than likely, you’ll catch me wearing my black Everlane pocket-tee with palm green pants, all based on the sun, sands, and palm trees that define my own aesthetic. Offline and on.