Designer "Quotes"

I’m interested in what r some of the most influential or most memorable designer, artist, or even businessperson quotes that you often find yourself repeating or trying to live by???

One of my top that i often recall to myself is obviously the James Dyson quote listed in my tag… “enjoy failure and learn from it. You can never learn from success.”

also, “dont be afraid to give up the good and go for the great.” -John D Rockefeller

honestly i really liked the quote pointed out in the recent post about the origin of the Nike Air Max 1’s “when u sit down and design something, what u design is a culmination of everything you’ve seen and done in your life up to that point” -Tinker Hatfeild- very interesting and inspiring!

i just thought this might turn out to be an interesting topic!!! thanks guys.

“At some point, someone, somewhere, thought that that (pointing to a really ugly product) was hot” - Paul Rothstein

I think about that on every project to give me a dose of humility.

“As a designer, we can be the only advocate for the consumer in the product development cycle.” or something like that. I can’t remember if this is an academic version of something Victor Papanek said, or something a professor of mine said.

[looking at a product] “If you even liked that, I would fire you.” - one of my bosses.

I’ll try to think of more and get back to you.

Two quotes that are always with me:

“God is in the details” – I will attribute it to Mies van der Rohe even though he probably got it from Flaubert.

“Never leave well enough alone” – Raymond Loewy

“if it makes you happy; buy it.” - micheal young

can’t find the thread at the moment, but there was a big topic of these design-y quotes here on the forums a while back. maybe you can find it through a search. it was also featured on the blog. about 6-7 pages worth ,if i remember correctly, sometime lat year.


i remember that thread, among my favorites of the group was:

“we’ll burn that bridge when we get to it”

From a presentation I just gave on innovation:

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”
– Michelangelo

“If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.”
– Albert Einstein

“Everyone who has ever taken a shower has had an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off, and does something about it that makes a difference.”
– Nolan Bushnell

“Out there is an entrepreneur who is forging a bullet with your company’s name on it. You’ve got one option now – to shoot first. You’ve got to out-innovate the innovators.”
– Gary Hamel

“The practice of R&D involves making mistakes, realizations, corrections, and more mistakes. Trial and error is a fundamental part of the process. Too many managers in corporate America learn to avoid invention and new thinking because they have been convinced that their careers depend upon not making mistakes.”
– Tom Huff

“Coming up with ideas is only one part of the process of innovation. If you have a brilliant idea and all you do is write it in a memo and ‘cc’ it around, it will likely have no impact. You have to get people emotionally engaged. No one got up the courage to storm the Bastille after receiving a memo.”
– John Kao

“New ideas come into this world somewhat like falling meteors, with a flash and an explosion, and perhaps somebody’s castle roof perforated.”
– Henry David Thoreau

“New to the world ideas rarely come fully formed in a single bolt from the blue. They happen with round after round of refining and recombining ideas.”
– Marco Marsan, from 'Think Naked‘

“The way we’re going to survive is to innovate our way out of this.”
– Steve Jobs, Apple Computer

“The best way to kill creativity in a team is letting the boss speak first”
– Victoria Holtz

my fave that started the thread last time was:

“people don’t know what they want. They want what they know.”


The details are not the details. They make the design.
Charles Eames

Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design.
Charles Eames

Good design is making something intelligible and memorable. Great design is making something memorable and meaningful.
Dieter Rams

Design is everything. Everything!
Paul Rand

In emphasizing evidential quality and beauty, I also want to move the practices of analytical design far away from the practices of propaganda, marketing, graphic design, and commercial art.
Edward Tufte

Beautiful Evidence is about the theory and practice of analytical design.
Edward Tufte

The opposite of every great idea is another great idea.

Client wants: 1. Good, 2. Fast, 3. Cheap. Designer replies: Pick two.

[Design is] a plan for arranging elements in such a way as to best accomplish a particular purpose.

Dare to be naive.

…it’s very easy to be different, but very difficult to be better.

Attractive things work better.

found the original thread.


keep it simple shithead…me
no unobtainium allowed…me
show me the mockup then i might get a woody…me
Oh for fracks sake, were you asleep during physics 101…me

sounds like you are channeling Deez with all this “me” stuff :wink:


From Tom Peters on Re-Imagine Manifesto!

They say we need “happy customers.”
I say “Give me pushy, needy, nasty, provocative customers who will drag me
down Innovation Boulevard at 100mph.”

They say “We seek Harvard MBAs.”
I say I seek Certiicate-free “PhDs” from the School of Hard Knocks.

They say “Think about it.
I say “Try it.”

They say “Plan it.”
I say “Test it.”

They say “Eighty-hour weeks will kill you.”
I say “Work 35-hour weeks, and the Chinese will kill you.”

They say “Times are changing.”
I say “Everything has already changed. Tomorrow is the First Day of Your
Revolution … or you’re Toast.”

“If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse” - Henry Ford

I think of this every time I observe a focus group where people have been paid to come and eat cake, drink beer and “test” new ideas…

And old boss (supposedly quoting some famed corporate guy of old – I can’t track down the original quote):

“We have to get more creative. Copy faster.”

I like the variation, “let’s jump off that bridge when we get to it”

“A designer achieves perfection, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

the sig says it all

Bringing this thread back… just stumbled on this today and think it’s pretty good.

No one cares about what you think, unless you do what you think. No one cares what you do, unless you think about what you do. No one ever really cares what you say.


You get the work you do. If you want to do something else start doing it.

-Kicker: Jack Schulze

interview it came from here:


My favorite form when I was back in school was when i was asking fr design feedback and the professor (Tony Kawanari) would answer, “I can’t even tell what that is…you need more warm and cool!”

I don’t think I’ve posted this here yet, it’s one of my faves:

“There is an inherent intelligence to beauty, which is about the depth and passion we feel for the world.” - Dori Tunstall