Attraction and interest

Design often deals with two parallel aspects: making things more obvious and making things more attractive and interesting. For a true modernist the choice is simple: always aim for maximum clarity and remove everything else. And there are so many areas which still have a long way to go before reaching basic acceptable level of understanding. True. But in marketing communication you often say that in order to create interest you cannot draw the full circle, you must leave a gap for the viewer to fill, thereby becoming involved and interested. And involvement may be an important factor for achieving the full effect or functionality!

In practice there are some things that must be obvious and other that might be more enigmatic, there is no direct conflict. To simplify the process, you can first make the thing you work with as obvious as you can, and then add elements to make it more ”enigmatic”. But that is also a rather linear approach. I would rather suggest that you define the experience first, find the sweet spot of attraction and interest, and then prototype towards the end solution, preferably in a mixed team, balancing the degree of obvious understanding and curious interest.

This picture is from the Bremen Classic Motorshow this winter, where the 100 year celebration of Alfa Romeo was manifested in a separate exhibition. Before the opening ceremony these classic Alfa Romeos were covered in red sheets, in order to attract interest, and at the inauguration the sheets were removed.

I just can’t help finding these cars even more beautiful with the red covers on! Look at that expression of speed and almost feeling of human flesh under the red skin. Surely the enthusiasts recognise the models anyway and may even feel a satisfaction in recognising them. The tension is interesting. So leaving the red sheets on would have been a great post-modern strategy. But then of course, this was not an art exhibition, people wanted to actually see the cars…

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  2. Apr 10, 2010: Clear and obvious – or effective? : Olle Torgny – From form to sense

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