Design as making coffee

Design is like making coffee. Coffee is basically caffeine in water. You may get a better cup of coffee depending on the coffee beans and water, equipment, coffee-making experience, process, environment, and of course, the cup. But there is something more.

Imagine your friend invites you over for a chat, and makes coffee. Although he may not be the best barista in town, he will do his best to make sure you will enjoy your cup of coffee. The more he cares for you, the more you may enjoy it. The point is not only the taste of the coffee itself, but also how much he cares. Of course, if he uses good coffee beans, pure water, cup, brews it at the right temperature, serves it in a great cup, and has good coffee making skills, it will be good. But if he does not care for the person drinking coffee, the most important element may be missing. It is why homemade always beats restaurant.


Imagine we are designing a product, let’s say it is a radio. The design will be done when you create electronic and mechanical parts for the radio, and a case to enclose them. In fact, anyone can design a radio as long as one knows how to design and what goes into a radio. If a designer has a good design skill and has enough experience in designing electronic products, it may even be a good design.

But I am certain that if a designer designs a radio while imagining the joy of those who work, study, repair cars, or cook while listening to one, the design will become a much more beautiful one. It is like the cup of coffee that my friend makes for me.

There are many mediocre designs in the world. It is not only because those designers did not have good design skill, but also they did not care for people through design. It is true that caring alone cannot make good coffee. But without care, the most important ingredient is missing.

©Sooshin Choi

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