Designing Meaning, Creating Value

John Maeda of MIT’s Media Lab wrote a delightful post about meaning and design, and how deep meaning can be embedded into a designed offering.  And as he tells the story, meaning can even be designed into something as mundane (yet vitally important) as a restroom door:

There is nothing more powerful in the visual vocabulary of an artist than the power of establishing contrast.
Anything big and fat appears bigger and fatter when placed next to
something flaccid and skinny… Thus the contrast
between the Mens Room and Ladies Room at The Plaza Hotel reaches epic
proportions in this architectural statement that doubles as a political
statement of old… Nothing could be appreciated in a simpler way than these
gilded restrooms of New York City.

Chew on that stew of thoughts for a moment: how could you use the concept of contrast as a way to embed helpful, behavior-shaping information into your next design, be it a website, a camera, or a flower vase?  I love Maeda’s notion of contrast because of its all-encompassing nature; it demands that one consider all the levels of design that create meaning: visceral, behavioral, and reflective.