Steve and Jonathan, for the win.
Good design works. Period.
Aesthetics are extremely important, as it’s not only how we immediately judge things before we can judge them tactilely, but we also want to surround ourselves with pretty things. So, what is better than a pretty object sitting on your desk? One that works as well as, if not better than it looks.
Design isn’t an outer shell or a coating. It’s everything. It’s the complete package. It’s the framework, the literal and metaphorical meaning and the guts.
A written question isn’t solved simply by looking at the words that are written down. It’s solved by the meaning in the words as they come together to form a thought. Physical design is a collection of many elements, all coming together to answer or ask a question and ultimately solve a problem.
The next time you see something that was designed, ask yourself if it works. If it doesn’t, move on as you’re wasting your time.
Lastly, I feel the best design works without those consuming it being aware that it’s working or how it does so. They don’t have to think about it, as it’s just second nature to interact with something that does what it’s asked to do.