Design, simplicity, and the marketplace

Posted by Rob Walker on February 23, 2009
Posted Under: "Good Design" (Tyranny of)

single_300So, speaking of design: I’m interested to learn, via Better Living Through Design, about the Normal Bookmark. It is “a simple, plain bookmark made from quality paper with a natural texture and color.” It is further described as a reaction to a “flashy” free bookmark that came with a purchase from a shop and that thus included that shop’s logo. This logo-ed bookmark:

reminded me of today’s busy society, where every company is trying to outdo, outsmart, out-compete and out-advertise each other. As a result, I feel our simple human lives have become quite suffocated and fatigued under the overwhelming pressure from modern-day media.

Good design is design that is invisible and should be free of the designer’s ego.

Thus the Normal Bookmark is just a blank piece of thick paper. With rounded edges. A pack of five costs $7.

Now I ask you: Is charging more than a dollar for a blank piece of thick paper really an example of “good design”?

It’s not clear what the specific paper-type is, or whether it’s, I don’t know, recycled or something okay now I see this page says the paper is “quality paper from managed and renewed forests.” That’s still pretty vague for me.

But seriously: Couldn’t anyone “distracted” by overly colorful bookmarks simply look around their apartment/home and find some suitably blank scrap material that could be repurposed into a bookmark? And for that matter, aren’t we in a recession where everybody is supposedly trying to be all conspicuously frugal? Or is this really just a satire?

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

Reader Comments

Receipts make pretty good bookmarks and are remarkably “ego-free”.

Written By cousin lymon on February 23rd, 2009 @ 8:37 pm

Doing a search of your site re:simplicity I came across this post.

Not sure I’ve found my answer.

Sex sells. I wonder if simplicity of this order does?

Keep creating…it’s more fun that way,

Written By Mike Wagner on September 22nd, 2009 @ 5:52 pm

This makes me wonder what kind of demographic or market segment psyche actually went out and bought into this concept. Thank you for sharing this.

Written By Anj on June 6th, 2011 @ 12:43 pm