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Views from the studio

Views from the studio

How a love for the MiG-15 applies to design

 Image copyright © 2016 Warbird Depot

Image copyright © 2016 Warbird Depot

Closer acquaintances of mine, know that I have a fascination with aircraft. This started as a wide-eyed seven-year-old child, long before I even knew what graphic design was. Latterly though, I’ve realised much of this love is to do with aesthetics, design and beauty.

So … how can I relate this to design?

1. Good design stands the test of time

Design styles change and constantly evolve, but fantastic design always stands the test of time. We still talk about, and are influenced by, design from the Bauhaus era of the 1920s and influential poster design from the 1940s, such as that of Abram Games. 

2. Good design is talked about

The MiG-15 was groundbreaking in its day. One of the first jet fighter aircraft to have a 'swept wing' design – allowing it to fly faster than previous aircraft designs – breaking the sound barrier and therefore able to outclass other straight-winged jet fighters. Its ground-breaking nature is still talked about today.

3. Good design inspires wonder

The MiG-15 was rarely witnessed by the general public. Its fame and legendary status grew in the skies over Korea in the 1950s. Now it's a museum piece or reserved for airshows, it inspires wonder from those who’ve heard of its legendary existence.

4. Good design appeals to the senses

I'd read about and heard of the MiG-15’s fame. However, when I first witnessed it flying at an airshow – it appealed to all my senses. This maybe just one for the aviation geeks, but the smooth sound of its engine as it flew over, the sun glinting off that silver fuselage. Design should heighten the senses and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. If I ever saw this aircraft on the ground, I’d just want to run over and touch it.

5. Good design is for a purpose

Good design shouldn’t solely be about looking great. Good design should look great for a reason. It should communicate the right message, to the right target audience, educate them, make them read, or click – make them want to find out more or get in touch. The MiG-15 accidentally looks beautiful. I imagine the original brief was about speed, maneuverability and accuracy. The aircraft only looks the way it does, in order to fulfil those remits – form completely following function. It intrigues me that beauty purely comes from fulfilling a need. Unlike most car design, I don't believe the brief ever said ‘make it look beautiful’. 

I’d be interested to know what inspired you, retrospectively. Can you link any early interests or hobbies through to what you do for a living now?