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Maribeth Rayfield | 02.14.20

A Place for Everything

A fly on the wall in our home might witness (on the daily) me reciting the mantra—“A place for everything and everything in its place”. This is my friendly way of reminding my family that their things have found a way of encroaching into areas where they don’t belong.

Photo Credits

Metropolitan Museum of Art, DeVOL Kitchens

I can thank my appreciation of all things Shaker for that one. In this frenetic world, the Shaker mentality rings true for me—that in economy and order, there is peace and harmony. Beauty even. There’s a parallel to this philosophy in web design. Really, design of any kind, for that matter. To make something—and make it well—you must first have a clear understanding of the purpose and function of that thing.

Thoroughly identifying and evaluating all the “things” (content) we must consider in any design project is paramount to its success. Content drives and informs all the decisions we make along the way. Until you spend the time to audit, group, and assess what ”things” you’ll need to accommodate—down to the very last detail—you can’t successfully determine their “place” within the design. We’ve all been through projects where content has been added or priorities shifted midway through. As designers, it’s our job to solve problems elegantly. Can changes in content be accommodated at later stages of a project? If so, what’s the cost? The thoughtful consideration of content at the very earliest stages of a project ensures that every decision along the way is considered and intentional.

“Beauty rests on utility”

Shaker Philosophy

The Shakers are known for their simple, beautifully-crafted objects. We need only to look at examples of their furniture to be reminded of their belief that “beauty rests on utility”.

While I don’t subscribe to the Shaker practices, I find there’s a lot of wisdom in their approach to simplicity, craftsmanship and order. A useful thing is a beautiful thing, and our solutions will always be the most useful if they’re crafted and intentional from the start.

What can be learned from a group whose values include—above all else—hard work, Godliness, and order?

All things Shaker
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