Why Design Matters
Why Design Matters

Design is the posh word for thinking a lot about how stuff looks A designed object is one whose makers worked long and hard to get it just right Most of the world has sadly not been well designed, it’s full of office towers, door handles, bed, lamps, and plates, that have been deeply unloved and were thrown together in a hurry by untalented people When many people around the world lack the bare necessities, it can be tempting to say that good design can’t really matter that much But we’re arguing that it does, desperately so, because of a weird quirk of our psychology We feel like, and are in a sense, quite different people depending on what’s in front of our eyes A dark brooding sky brings out certain feelings, a bright blue one others This kind of bedroom makes you feel one way, that one another Design matters because our identities and moods are fluid and shifting and it’s often the quality of the designed environment that determines whether we’ll feel confident or defeated, at ease or guarded, generous spirited, or alienated One of the great debates about how much design should matter took place in the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe between the Catholics and the Protestants Broadly speaking, the Protestants didn’t believe in spending much money on design They put up simple, functional churches, painted them plain white inside with minimal fuss and bother Nowadays, many Protestant churches continue to look extraordinarily cheap and basic The intellectual thought here is that what really matters is certain ideas and these enter your mind through your understanding, not through your senses You can get close to God by reading the Bible in a hayloft; you don’t need a fancy building But the Catholics beg to differ They invested so heavily in design: in stunning stain glass windows, beautiful carved angels, and passionate renditions of the life of Christ because they fervently believed that our environments do change who we are We may be further or nearer God, depending on what’s on the wall and how high the ceiling is Governments have always understood and respected the underlying idea that design changes us Nazi designers like Albert Speer paid a huge amount of attention to making sure the design world would speak of Nazi values like aggression and power Just as modern German architects have tried to ensure that contemporary Berlin will project an image of democracy, peace, and openness We mold ourselves to the spirit that emanates from the objects around us, we become a little as they are Even if we’re not always able to say quite how objects make us feel, we all sense a spirit, better or worse, that emanates from a given set of objects We’re generally good at playing that game where you try to imagine what sort of person the work of design would turn into if it miraculously became human When we call an object of design beautiful, what we’re really saying is that if it turned into a person it would be someone we liked, someone maybe dignified or self-possessed, intelligent or adventurous Beauty is a promise of goodness and ugliness is evocative of nothing short of despair and evil And that’s why beautiful design matters because it encourages our better sides, while ugly design stokes our worst ones We need to make sure the world around us is well designed, not out of some superfluous expensive taste, but because good design helps us to be the best versions of ourselves

100 thoughts on “Why Design Matters”

  1. Joe Munro says:

    However, the design of an object should include practical purpose too.

    Great video! 🙂

  2. Red_ Guy says:

    it's great to see this video.
    a kind of sequel to the "bad taste" video.

    I wish to find to closest thing to that could exist to objective good taste.
    but not only in sight object (fashion, architecture, design) but probably to find that in food (or any other senses)

    I had an argument about taste:
    If an egg would cost 200$ and rib-eye steak cost 2$.
    my opinion was that there will still be no luxury in eggs like that fact that we don't see snake's eggs as a gourmet dish.
    But the taste about food is more complicated because of the history with food (like the history with eggs for example that could make it a luxury if cost 200$ now).

  3. P. says:

    This one goes very well with the first world problems one ;P

  4. Etion Pinari says:

    School of life please fix this. The audio on most of your videos is low, and the speaker in some parts gets "muted" by the other sounds or the background music .I want to hear more about philosophy than the sound fx or the music.

  5. Silent Guy says:

    Design in the more cosmetic sense doesn't madder to everyone. I'm stood on top a mountains and I'm felt the same way I do know siting on my couch.

  6. Joseph Asghar says:

    Well I love the sound effects. And the animation, for that matter. It's like as Monty Python / Heath Robinson mash-up.

    Alain db deserves a Plain English Award.

  7. Malcolm Graham says:

    I think it is a jump to say because the Halo Effect exists, being around nice things makes us more moral people.

  8. Stav Love says:

    Comparing this to Em's videos and the replies to it, it sure seems visual context helps. At the very least in this video it's easier for the viewer to comprehend exactly what you speak of when you say Nazi Design, for example.

    Sure, this isn't too relevant to Plato's ideas perhaps, but it does help to set the mood – to focus the mind.

    Em can still do her videos without visual context, but I do believe they'll be better off including something more than a summary of books, you guys have plenty of great ideas so I'm sure you'll figure it out one way or another.

    Keep up all the great work on this channel!

  9. Abd ElHakim Amer says:

    Brilliant collection of videos very intresting keep up the good the work

  10. onemadhungrynomad says:

    okay, but who decides whats good?

  11. Соɾу ℛ. says:

    Say what you will about Nazi Germany, but Albert Spear did create some good architecture.

    The Allis must have hated it, considering the Carpet Bombing and all.

  12. Eboza says:

    This is quickly becoming my favorite channel on YouTube.

    You guys will easily, if not already, become the quintessence of online philosophical education.  

    I wish you guys continued success.

  13. Mike Byrne [Tuan Nguyen] says:

    Hasn't the disney film, Beauty and the Beast had any influence on your phrase of "ugliness is nothing short of despair and evil" lol I believe a comment below made the same comment. Also, even ugly designs have a purpose whether its ugly through your eyes or beautiful to another. Ultimately, design is important because its a form of expression to serve a purpose. Not simply due to a poor sense of creativity. apologies mate for being a bit critical with these clips but, I really share your concern for the viewers education.

  14. BraveLittIeToaster says:

    There's a female Shazam? …A she-Shazam?

  15. Seohee Kang says:

    Where can I get the script? I'm learning english, the information seems to interest to me

  16. Gabriela Mignone says:

    If you have a soul design matters. What kind of design? It depends on your soul. Thank you School of Life, you are excellent.

  17. Jennifer Phan says:

    I agree and appreciate with most of what is said in this video, although defining design as "a posh word for thinking a lot about how stuff looks" is WRONG! 

    This is the mistake that most people make. The average person always associates with design as just visual aesthetics but this isn't true because design is actually about human EXPERIENCE (think about industrial, interactive, systems or sound design). Design always has a purpose as well (this is the difference between art and design) to that the design must solve a problem. For example, a building that is DESIGNED for people in wheelchairs – it can be as beautiful as buildings go, but if it doesn't serve the function (to accommodate the person in the wheelchair's experience with this building) it is bad design. A website designer designing for an online store must design the website with easy navigation to turn more viewers to customers – if navigation is difficult, it is bad design. 

    Design is important because it is the method we use to IMPROVE THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE and solve specific problems.

  18. EJ. says:

    you should do a video regarding fashion, and the transition we have taken from 100 years ago, to the disgusting market of fast fashion

  19. Michael Robinson says:

    Out of curiosity, isn't it possible for someone who adopts this frame of thinking to develop an over reliance on material things (The thought that buying certain things complete you as a person)?

  20. BlueOwl says:

    0:15 Why is Birmingham constantly viewed as an example of poor design? It's hardly London, but it hasn't been a concrete jungle for years, the building you pictured (the Rotunda) looks beautiful since its refurbishment.

  21. Arr Ziz says:

    Did anyone else think about Transformers at the part about objects turning into persons?

  22. juedbe says:

    Good piece, guys,

    Though I have to admit to being slightly disappointed that you chose to focus solely on the aesthetic aspect of design and did not explore the hugely important role design plays in defining processes and ultimately being responsible for the success or failure in the fundamental workings of the designed object.

    For example, well-designed bridges don't easily collapse; well-designed government websites make it easier for more people to gain access to important information and vital benefits; well-designed automobiles are safer and result in less fatalities, etc.

    I feel that the general public holds a perception of design as nothing more than "lipstick on a pig" or a "skin" on a finished product, when in reality, it is the attention paid to design (or the lack thereof) that ultimately makes or breaks said product; makes it work or not work.

    Thank you guys, and keep it up
    I really enjoy your work.

  23. Jakub Morawski says:

    Please use that voice and that voice only. Great videos by the way.

  24. Jaseem says:

    This video makes the mistake of conveying design is just about looks. Sometimes it is about looks, but most importantly design is about function.

  25. Emil says:

    Lovely video.

  26. Ricardo Sosa says:

    ok. I guess that's one way to think about it…

  27. Mustafa Kulle says:

    Very good video.

    If only clients took all this into consideration before hiring designers.

  28. chucky ! says:


  29. tcfbmusic says:

    This video is misleading, It suggests good design is about making something look pretty above all else, which is wrong. Good design is about function, then form.

  30. rugbyguy59 says:

    Just watched the Spinoza "film". The section here on the debate between Catholic and Protestant reminded me of part of that. Seems to me, in this case, the Catholic Church was saying this is how things (humans) are and going with it, as Spinoza suggested. The Protestants are saying this is how we should be… some arguments for both but I know I always like visting Catholic buildings more… unless it's Anglican… which is sort of the same. They have more presence.

  31. MariaM玛丽娅姆Onika Guenther says:


  32. Gregor Gjerek says:

    I liked the sound that Nosferatu made… 🙂

  33. Alessio Tranchida says:

    A big compliment guys! You make an exceptional work with your videos.

  34. Mihir says:

    What about people who are beautiful on the outside and terrible people and vice versa. Do ugly people make us feel negative emotions ?

  35. Matt Bottos says:

    Interesting! "Beauty is a promise of goodness" sounds like something a "philosopher" like Kanye West would say in one of his design lectures… and at the same time we are lucky enough to have his dear wife Kim teach us about authenticity via her Instagram feed. Isn't this sentiment a reflection of a superficial and myopic culture? Reflecting on the examples provided in this clip, has humanity actually learnt anything from history? If you focus on good design alone, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that it can be used to exploit.

  36. Ali Rahmoun says:

    i dont know why..but i felt the need to clarify that @00:37 its Dieter Rams who appears.. He is a German industrial designer closely associated with the consumer products company Braun and the Functionalist school of industrial design, his work was also a big inspiration for Apple's industrial designer Jonathan Ive.. i have to say that i love this kind of attention to details in this Channel's Videos 🙂

  37. Tobla Howell says:

    The Hula woman lamp was actually really good Kitch…love these videos..so well designed.

  38. Nicholas Drake says:

    Awesome, Loved this video.

  39. Nutbeam says:

    I can say sincerely that this show is very well designed

  40. nicethugbert says:

    I think that the Protestants would argue that God helps us be the best versions of ourselves and since communion with God happens independent of design, then, design does not matter and is a waste of the gifts God has given us.

    Just playing "devil's advocate" so to speak.

  41. Mael Jarnole says:

    Design is not just meant to make things look good : affordance, ergonomy are important for a good design. Most of the time it is about Keeping It Simple, Stupid.

  42. Amor Sol says:

    So true

  43. Mouchette L says:

    Absolutely!  I make my home and my garden as beautiful, peaceful and restful as I can. I find it healing, a place of comfort and delight. I remove anything ugly or useless.

  44. Brandon Adams says:

    I have to disagree with the aesthetic argument here. Its only important for things to be designed with function in mind. Things being designed with superfluous features that are purely for the sake of "looking nice" is a waste of resources usually and always a waste of time. That is unless it can be argued that the aesthetic beauty of something is part of the function such as a painting to inspire conversation in an otherwise boring office building.

  45. Urandulguun Enkhbat says:

    Good designs helps us to be our best selves.

  46. Choc des glaçons says:

    Such a functionalist view will always come across weirdly to an æsthet. But it's still a very valid and good line of argument, provided it doesn't become the only one, pretending beauty needs a purpose other than itself and this purpose is only societal mood control.

  47. David Andersen says:

    It is rubbish to suggest that the central motivation of the Catholic Church was to inspire by "design". The purpose is to render postulates humble in the presence of the Church. This is accomplished through a display of enormous wealth and pageantry. The more ornate and overloaded the more powerful the impact. The Church was and is the center of arts and thinking, the main economic power in predominantly Catholic nations. The construction and maintenance of them is a controlling economic, spiritual, political, and social force. It inspires to enslave populations, not to merely expand consciousness.

  48. Gendo Ikari says:

    Oh Rams !!

  49. Barbie says:

    You guys should do a video about "beauty in the ugly". There are several works of art (music, paintings, buildings) that are so terrifying, sad and ugly, in a sublime way, that makes them absolutely beautiful.

  50. R. Hendriksen says:

    I would love to hear what TSOL has to say about UX and UIX?!

  51. Shion Sunaga says:

    =It may make us feel rather small that we "need" good designs to keep us in our best position. But I certainly agree that they improve how we feel and is still indeed an important way to a achieve the best of ourselves.

  52. Toxq Jam says:

    What a gem this channel is 🙂 Lovely work guys! I'm sure it take a lot of resources to get to this finite product. Congrats!

  53. Ratnam Upadhya says:

    This is why apple devices sell more….

  54. noyboy125 says:

    I agree completely with the points you make, however visual is just one aspect. One must design with visual, functional and structural integrity. Many even add on the component of environmental integrity. A great designer makes statements and adds to their environment by designing. Furthermore I would say that design is more of a verb than a noun. It is the act of arranging elements to achieve a particular purpose. The purpose may be to look good, but many purposes are much more subtle. Love the videos though, and would love to see you guys do one on the great thought leaders in design such as Charles/Ray Eames, William McDonough and especially Bucky Fuller.

  55. David Hanks says:

    Great video and channel. I hope you have more, on design, in the works. The world needs better design and understanding of it. It relates so well to all the other awesome subjects of these videos.

  56. J. C. Chandler says:


  57. sintofg says:

    Dat handslap tho.

  58. TanTinTon says:

    i feel as though ive sinned so much cuz i laughed at the holy finger painting thing like.. slaps God's hand amg im sorry.

  59. 12dollarsand78cents says:

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
    I don't see any useless frames around windows, and I love that look.

  60. Minjoo Yang says:

    It would be really nice if there's English subtitle for non-English speakers
    to understand such valuable piece of information better. 🙂

  61. Peter Hudson says:

    if all of your opinions were based on statistics, your credence would be deserved. opinion versus statistics makes your posts irrelevant.

  62. Rosy Becker says:


  63. Greg Bakker says:

    Good design, like philosophy, should be familiar and common to everyone. It is ludicrous that it's often perceived as some high brow, elite pursuit.

  64. lucas wang says:

    What is the name of the psycologist? I don't think his name was mentioned in the video.

  65. Spencer Goldade says:

    Beautifully done video. It sounds like you are speaking more about the art of things rather than the design of things though.

  66. Adam Lee says:

    0:20 This must be so triggering for a lot of manual workers.

  67. GOVAN TONI MAART says:

    Shout out for featuring Peter.

  68. Toti Jean-Marc Yalé says:


  69. Andrew Godly says:

    I hate western architecture so much. It is only built for functionality and quick, inexpensive means. I also live in a city that has contributed literally nothing to the beauty it could potentially have. I believe the ugliness of the city really adds a depressing feel, maybe that's why suicide rates are so high in the western world

    Also, I can't help but mention the tragedy of how many beautiful chapels, churches and cathedrals that were destroyed during war. Many 15th-17th century buildings were just horribly demolished. I'm no religious person, in fact I hate religion, but the craftsmanship and history that was nearly erased is a true tragedy

  70. Nevo Krien says:

    I beg to differ we can learn from failure more then from succes so ugly things should teach us the same or more then beautiful things

  71. TGTID says:

    This stuff is thoroughly researched! Very nice work guys!

  72. Paranoid Android says:

    Design isn't just how things look, how it works is also just as much part of the design.

  73. v i n i c i o says:

    theres is no such thing as good or bad design, appropriate should be the term

  74. Fatih DEMİR says:

    not İzik. İznik ,Turkey

  75. Chris Kelly says:

    All of this, but for websites and apps. Design isn't just about buildings and chairs 🙂

  76. Aditya Bajaj says:

    Isn't it weird how Kanye West stresses this point so much but still doesn't come halfway clear when trying to convey the same message?

  77. shon safri says:

    Sometimes bad designs are the beauty of things.

  78. Colleen Bowers says:

    Would very much appreciate and love a video about Universal Design and mostly one of Universal Design for Learning

  79. Eve Davis says:

    this is why i'm so concerned w appearance

  80. Aditya Mehta says:

    easy with the SFX

  81. Gabriel Renderos says:

    I'm a designer and I can properly say that this is SO wrong in SO MANY ways

  82. BursaDesain says:

    good video, thank you

  83. Nishant Mane says:

    creepy ass video but great content

  84. BursaDesain says:

    good contents, thank you

  85. Saffa90 says:

    I wish this was appropriate for 9-10 year olds as I was wanting to show this to my class.

  86. alan says:

    very disruptive and also interesting point of view, thanks!

  87. Denis Santos says:

    In what software are these animations made?

  88. Jillian Smith says:

    Since you brought it up (visually) by showing the Sistine Chapel ceiling, I've always wondered, why do Adam's nads look so incredibly pathetic, ruptured, even?  Which one is his penis, and what's going on with his balls?  This has always looked horrible to me, even painful.

  89. Isiah Obera says:

    Take a look at this facebook page they are highly professional designers, https://www.facebook.com/creativeowldesign

  90. Thanos Plane says:

    N I N G E N

  91. Nadia Sparkling says:


  92. Mihael-Ionuț Furdu says:

    that slap thou

  93. HATE BY DESIGN says:

    NO NO NO, its not about how people think long and hard about how things look. It is ONLY about how humans think about solving problems, not just works, who it works for and how well without harming others

  94. starry eyed says:

    i dont know what to do with this information

  95. NINEPONE says:

    ёбаный мудл

  96. Umesh Kumar says:

    decoration isn't design.

  97. LucKie says:

    "Good design helps us to be the best version of us."

  98. Diana Siegel says:

    i love all the braun inserts in there

  99. Tarun Jakhodia says:


  100. Katlyn Whittenburg says:

    I want the narrator to narrate my life.

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