The Elegance Of Imperfection In Design Products

The Elegance Of Imperfection In Design Products image

The discussion surrounding imperfection is one marred by perception sensitivities. One person looks at imperfection negatively and another looks at it with a positive eye. These opposing perspectives result to a bipolar consideration of the ‘imperfect’ as either faulty or incomplete. The latter borrows from the Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi, which promotes the aesthetic embracing of the impermanence, transience, and evidence of use in an ingenious setting of the natural world.

How To Create Imperfectness

The feel of ‘imperfection’ regarding a product emanates from various properties of; form e.g. size, proportions; function e.g. performance, comfort and the materials. Aspects of form like asymmetry, simplicity, modesty and asperity suggest a natural process of creation and add to the aesthetic elegance of any design.

Clay Rocking Chair by Maarten Baas image
Clay Rocking Chair by Maarten Baas

 However, aesthetics alone should not be the focus of the distinguished designer: He/she should endeavor to reflect all of these considerations at all stages and facets of the product development, from ideation to end-use of product. This brings to heart the reality and unique experiences of imperfectness realized through careful and intelligent infusion into design, transcending mere aesthetics to mirror the true face of the natural world.

Mass Production

In the industrial world, consistency is viewed as the universal standard of quality. When variations occur in the manufacturing process, and products deviate from the specifications, they are marked as faulty. In order to achieve some predetermined attributes of a product and tested verifiable user experiences, this intolerance to variability is inescapable. It is mandatory to ensure that all customers receive a similar product, with familiar functionalities and form. This standardizes every single purchase, which is the main theme in mass production.

Japanese Design | Modern And Minimalistic Qualities image
Japanese Design | Modern And Minimalistic Qualities


Imperfection For Product Differentiation

While this ideal has remained engraved in the manufacturing sector, new technologies and systems in product creation are emerging and we are witnessing a simultaneous impact of environmental and socio-cultural influences on the revolutionizing of physical goods. We are in an era where we are continually prompted to question the superiority of the ‘perfectly cloned product’ over the ‘imperfect product’ in the satisfaction of human needs and whether imperfection offers a real alternative route.

Designers can challenge the current production modes, if they can pursue the belief that, imperfection can be a legitimate means to create product differentiation (even individualization) as well as establish new aesthetic experiences for the users. Traditional craftsmanship illustrates this concept of infusing unique value to a product through introducing variability to individual bespoke creations.



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