“Nice bike,” he says, breaking the courteous silence in the elevator as it plummets towards to wintery streets of midtown Manhattan after a long day at the office. “It doesn’t have anything you don’t need,” he elaborates as a nod to not just its aesthetics but craftsmanship. I mutter a thanks in the way that I’ve always done, struggling to be humble in the glow of a compliment. I lower my chin and gaze back down, assuming the customary elevator apathy, hoping it’s not apparent that I’m blushing as if he were a dame gushing over my especially-striking-in-my-own-narrative good looks.
I’ve come to appreciate the honesty of simplicity—where craftsmanship is an understanding and acceptance of what’s important and more importantly, what’s not. The honesty comes from not trying to be something more through embellishment or striving for minimal design by giving it a coat of white paint rather than distilling out the unnecessary parts.
As I’ve started to spend more time away from my desk, out of my head, and getting lost in the world around me, I notice these honest designs more often. I’m less interested in software and more interested in people and the things they make in real world materials. I’ve been burned by hacks that fail at the wrong time and complex tools which have let me down. I’ve begun to deeply appreciate when something endures because of the decisions made by some industrial designer in their tight grey-colored shirt and two-days worth of beard. This idea has always been part of the DNA of Hack/Make but I feel it will become more center stage here as time goes on.