Good Design Is book cover

The idea for Good Design Is came in 2019.

My original drawing, which is, sadly, lost, micmicked the Golden (Ratio) Spiral. This mimicry was unintended at the time.1

What I present below, instead, is a one-year apart redrawing. I really wanted to share a hand-drawn graphic before a tech one, to approximate the Ratio. Deliberate this time.

In the rest of this Introduction, I take a few sections to answer such key questions as:

Why Golden Ratio?
What do I mean when I say "design"? Really, what is design?
What is Good Design Is - as a book, course, and life's work? And, finally
What do you stand to gain from consuming this work?
Hand-drawn graphic of the 17 Good Design Is facets
Figure 1.0: Hand-drawn Good Design Is graphic done on cardboard and sticky notes.

Why Golden Ratio?

Nature has only one pattern - spiral. Tender or turbulent, plant tendril or powerful tornado, organic patterns all tend toward spiral. Why, you ask?

Spiral may denote growth and endlesses - from a small center, life emanates, swirls on, self-perpetuating spectacularly. Mere growth or spectacular display, though, aren't nature's very reason to arrange by spiraling.

Plant tendril becoming a spiral.Spiral of a tornadoSunflower spiralSea shell spiralBig mountain sheep horns form spirals
Figure 1.1: Every pattern in nature is spiral or at least can be approximated to spiral. Source: from left to right (or top to bottom):, and (NASA, Aaron Burden, Pavel Nekoranec, and Tyler Donaghy all on Unsplash).

By design - making anything work satisfactorily - nature is parsimonious, picking the spiral arrangement to grow, scale, and stabilize with the least amount of energy. Quite purposeful and thoughtful, I hear you say?

While nature is lacing its components intricately, we see the completed pattern as attractive, pleasant. Worthy of mimicry.

We know too that forming objects according to a spiral movement helps us use less resources, build more stable structures, and conserve space. We see this in rope-rigging, hair-braiding, staircase building, a million more applications.

The Golden Ratio (Angle, Mean, Section, Rectangle) is how we model this natural phenomenon with mathematical precision. We needed a way to never miss it in our own creations. When we have proportioned our works to this mathematic, the results are quite the aesthetic - win-win, yeah?

A spiral staircase.Woman with red hair braided.Rope hanging from a wooden pole on the beach.
Figure 1.2: Applications of spiral math in designs that result in quite aesthetically pleasing scenes. Source: from left to right (or top to bottom): DANIST, Tammie Allen, and Stefan Galescu all on Unsplash.

The Golden Ratio is observed in a set of repeating shapes that share the same rather fixed aspect ratio (ratio of width to height). So if you picture a golden (or perfect) rectangle, it is the sum of a square cut from it and another golden rectangle, and on and on - a never-ending scenic sequence.2

Mathematically, the golden ratio is the result from 'the sum of two successive numbers (a, b) divided by the larger number (a) which equates to the ratio of the larger number divided by the smaller number (a/b).' (National Geographic)

Figure 1.4: Mathematical illustration of the golden ratio. Source: National Geographic.

If you keep forming these rectangles, starting from the smallest unit and stacking around, you'll be traversing a spiral, a golden spiral, which great minds approximate formation of everything to.

Of course, this spiral may not always be apparent, doesn't have to be, but this ratio, this golden proportion, when it guides the arrangement of elements makes for perfect formations and rather striking visuals.

Figure 1.5: Approximated golden spirals on golden rectangles. Source: Wikipedia.
Figure 1.6: It's easier to understand the golden ratio when the math is pictured on the sides of a perfect rectangle. The usually irrational (neither exact nor repeating) number resulting from (a + b)/a is the same as (a/b). Is that the divine math? Many have thought so. Source: Wikipedia.

Now the desire of this book is to answer the question, "what do we hold against every design in order to call it good?" Or, really, what set of principles, which are known facets of good design, may we hold in mind when "designing" anything, that is, making anything work satisfactorily, in order to achieve that ultimate aim of - it is good, it works, it looks good, I love it?

Since the golden ratio holds such precise approximation to all perfect designs of nature, I had no other more befitting model to work with.

What Design?

That said, what design does this book address? Well, all design because everything is design. You may read all the details of my summation here.

Think about it this way: the goal of everything is "satisfaction" - it should do what it says it does in a way that fully satisfies whomever it is intended for. If it does it can be said to be "good". For then it will meet most if not all of the rather nuanced qualities that are inherent to any conception or fabrication that work satisfactorily. That is design.

So, am I about to teach you how to design anything? Let's see.

What Is Good Design Is?

Good Design Is is a book, course, and life's work by yours truly - Kabolobari Benakole. In just a bit, I'll lay out what the book is not. So do see it for what it is:

An expression and elucidation of the guiding principles of design, really, an examination of the facets of anything made that make it satisfactory
A help toward finding and forming a unifying strategy in design, whatever sphere that may be in - software, hardware, clothing, food, governing policy, you name it, and
A timeless reference to these enduring principles/facets that should by all means compass any design.

As a book, it's available free online. In portable formats, such as print, pdf, and epub, it's sold at a small fee. As a course, it is available as a collection of on-demand videos, offering a Good Design Is™ Certified certificate at the end of taking it.

What this Book Is Not

Now, what shouldn't you expect from this book? Good Design Is:

Not a design process guide
Not an academic study and presentation of any design concept or solution, for example, use of color
Not a technical manual for design of any type -- physical or digital (interface), and
Not a tool manual, for example, how to use Figma

You get the idea?

Lifetime Benefits

Therefore, let me be specific what you stand to gain from this book (really, this work if you eventually take the course or are on a team I guide).

You'll become a true designer, a noteworthy maker, if your calling is in fulfilling the tedium of working the design
You'll be able to facilate the production of better designs since knowing the facets will reform the keenness of your eye as you observe in order to approve or correct what's wrought
You'll become a better, more purposeful engineer or manager of engineering as you'll only have to orchestrate principle-led designs
You'll become a more creative or innovative problem-solver and/or needs-provider as this personality is more or less principles put to work dutifuly
You'll appreciate creations and nature better and can play actively in the evergreen field of bionics, helping to solve complex engineering problems. And, finally,
You'll shun "mediocre, thoughtless, inappropriate", ill-conceived, and ill-formed designs and embrace "usable, workable, enjoyable", timeless, and terrific ones.