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Design Within Our Reach

Posted by: Wynne Renz on October 23, 2012

Rob Forbes, the founder of Design Within Reach, recently came to speak at Interbrand New York as part of our World Changing Speakers Series. Forbes talked about his latest venture, Public Bicycles, as well as how good design can be found in unexpected places—all you have to do is look for it.

Forbes shared how he "sees" design in a TED Talk: Rob Forbes on ways of seeing.

I started thinking about Forbes' idea that "common design in the public area means a lot to people, and establishes [a] groundwork and common dialogue." In looking at where I personally work, I asked myself, "What 'un-designed' design can be found in the ‘public’ space of Interbrand New York?" And I wondered, "How is this design inspiring and connective?"

Un-designed design #1:

Interbrand Coffee Mug Pyramid

Interbrand Mug Pyramid 

According to Forbes, "the first job of design is to serve a social purpose." The Interbrand coffee mug pyramid is design-for-the-public-good, giving Interbrand employees their much needed morning cup of Joe.

Each mug is expertly placed on top of the other, revealing the “white space” waiting to be filled. The design is interactive — the structure changes as each mug is removed.

It even has a design imperfection, like a knot in a beautiful cut of wood. See the white mug, sans Interbrand logo?

Un-designed design #2

3rd Floor Stairway

Interbrand Stairway 

The third floor stairway exemplifies Forbes’ idea of, "the power of pattern and repetition to make an effect in our mind." The length of the stairs narrows to the top, creating the effect of an M.C. Escher painting, where the stairs appear to be neither ascending nor descending.

See the poster announcing Forbes’ World Changing Speaker Series? The event copy is printed in red, which is Interbrand’s core color. And red, Mr. Forbes says, is a color that has "this emotional power…"

Un-designed design #3

The Elevator Floor

The Elevator Floor 

The polka dotted floor of our building’s elevator shows how pattern has the power to, according to Forbes, "unite disparate elements."’ People tend to look down in elevators, and the pattern of the dots creates a sense of order and expectation in a place where people want to feel they’re safely getting where they need to go.

What are some moments of un-design you appreciate in your own environment?

Wynne Renz is a Consultant with the Verbal Identity team at Interbrand, NY.

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