I want to show you the Vitsœ Web site, because it’s one of the few I’ve seen in a long career of looking at same that so perfectly harmonizes what it is and what it does.

Vitsœ basically sells one thing, Dieter Rams’s 606 Universal shelving system, and they sell it well. The site communicates the product’s qualities, virtues and potentially surprising stringencies with a high degree of clarity, while allowing customers to speak their satisfaction in their own voices. It’s clearly just one component of a long-term relationship designed to unfold across multiple channels, going so far as to promote a healthy-sounding market in used pieces. And while it evinces a pleasing sense of attention to detail, it nevertheless achieves what it does with a absolute minimum of fuss, allowing the product to stand on its own. In so many of these ways, it meshes perfectly with the 606 system itself.

One of the reasons I’m no longer interested in commercial Web development is that clients so rarely seem to want this kind of refinement. So many of them want their sites to be heavy-handed experiences, rather than the kind of practical and effective tool exemplified by Vitsœ. (Maybe it’s that they mistrust their own products and services, doubt their ability to thrive on their own merits? After all, not every product can be a Dieter Rams.)

After a while, though, I find the parade of bells and whistles depressing, both as designer and as user. Less is still more. Tact is also an experience. Show me what you’ve got, and let it go.

2 responses to “Exemplary”

  1. Jon Tan says :

    The ethics of the Vitsœ site and system resonate with me as a designer. I think the best design is almost invisible. The container is transparent. Excellent information design is perhaps only obvious to the user when they try and perform the same task where the design is intrusive.

    I agree with your suggestion that some clients may seem to be compensating for their insecurity; That insecurity may also fuel imitative requests when competitors have already fallen in to the superfluous bells and whistles bin.

    Allowing the work or output itself, and the experiences of customers to paint a rich picture is a much more effective way to talk with the audience rather than at them. I’m already looking around the room and pondering on the compressed shelving structure.

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