Spoons, toilets and Enzo Mari's Sedia 1 chair are among the simple designs celebrated by Ilse Crawford in her first Good Design Masterclass for Braun, published here as part of Dezeen's collaboration with the brand.
Braun created the masterclass video series to celebrate its 100th anniversary. The series aims to inspire "good design for a better future".
Led by Crawford, the Good Design Masterclass series explores Braun's three key design principles: simple, useful and built to last. The series considers how these principles can inspire young designers to shape the products of tomorrow and for society to embrace good design in our day-to-day lives.
The first episode of the three-part series explored "simply designed" objects. In the video, Crawford explained how she believes simple design can be applied to the design industry today and how it relates to sustainability and consumption.
Crawford discussed how some of the most simple designs are those closest to the human body, such as eating utensils. According to Crawford, they have evolved and adapted over time, until they were reduced to the most simple of forms.
She compared a carved wooden spoon with a silver version of the utensil, commenting that the basic form of the spoon has remained "remarkably consistent around the world and over time."
Crawford also discussed the S-bend, the curved part of a waste pipe on toilets, which was invented in 1775 by Alexander Cumming.
Cumming's design prevents smells rising from sewers, stops unwanted flow and is what Crawford described as "probably one of the most ubiquitous, least-known, simple designs that we all have come in contact with".
According to Crawford, the design became popular in the mid 19th century due to the rapid urbanisation that came with industrialisation.
"There was the Great Stink in London in 1858 which was a catalyst to make this massive shift to what we now know as modern hygiene and the mass production of the WC," explained Crawford.
"It's so effective that it hasn't changed. It is in millions of bathrooms around the world. And yet, we never see it. It's the background to our life."
The simplicity of design sometimes does not always only apply to the design itself but to its "message", according to Crawford.
She gave Enzo Mari's Sedia 1 wooden chair as an example, which was designed for people to be able to easily construct themselves using basic tools.
"This is a really clear example of open-source furniture," said Crawford. "These were plans that were published and available for anybody to use."
"This was a message, not in a bottle, but in a chair," she continued. "He was a 1970s activist who wanted to shine a light on the culture of consumerism and inbuilt obsolescence. Aesthetics was really not the point. This was simply an intention to reframe the future."
According to Crawford, principles of simple design are "undesigned, almost invisible, easy to understand and often ingenious."
"We need to be thinking more about the three principles of Braun's design and more about sustainable systems," she said.
Over the coming weeks, Dezeen will publish further episodes of Braun's Good Design Masterclass, which are also available to watch on Braun's website. We also broadcast a live talk with Crawford as part of the collaboration.
Dezeen x Braun Good Design Masterclass