A quick search for “what comprises good design” returns many variations of Dieter Rams’ principles which, to the uninitiated, are: innovative, useful, aesthetic, unobtrusive, understandable, etc. Those words are what you’d expect to describe an Eames chair, for example, but no matter how hard you look, you might never find the word durable associated with Design.
But nature has another view completely. Look to nature for good design and durable is at the top of the list. In fact, the main difference between good and bad design in nature is durability. Dinosaurs were cool but not durable (or at least not durable enough to withstand a giant meteor strike). Sharks and alligators, on the other hand, made it past that gauntlet. Very durable.
Durable isn’t part of the ethos of Silicon Valley. One of the many cognitive dissonances of living here is the constant exposure to, and obsession with, what’s new and what’s next. On the plus side, being surrounded by “new” adds dynamism to daily life but it’s also true that if you always equate “new” with “better” it can lead you astray. The lure of the latest tech and funding rounds permeate the daily experience here, but science says our subconscious mind seems to favor longevity and utility over ephemera.
There’s a family down the block that sells used cars and they often have something notable parked in the driveway. Mostly it’s what you’d expect… a G-Wagon, a Cobra replica, sometimes it’s something less flashy. Recently a lightly used Tacoma was parked out front. It was in good shape, super clean, and then I noticed the sticker on the windshield…2013. Aside from the shock of realizing that 2013 is basically a 10-year-old truck, what struck me about this was how similar it is to the current model.