The Foundation of Creating Something Iconic

Explicit Content Warning: While I don't use or condone explicit content on the blog, the following blog post may reference such material.


This past week I attended the CROP design conference in Baton Rouge where I was privileged to listen to and meet some of my design heroes. One such designer — the king of thick lines himself — was Aaron Draplin of Draplin Design Company. He's known all over the world for his obsession with classic design — designs that worked 50 years ago and continue to work today. Their secret, he says, lies in their sense of clarity and utility. A state of being almost "undesigned".

In his inspiring and semi-controversial talk which concluded the conference, he was telling the story of his iconic "seed & feed" hats. "They're classic like white t-shirts, black hoodies and 501's. They're unf***withable." Some things have been refined down to their most elemental form that exists in the crossroads of beautiful and utilitarian creating a product that is what it should be and shouldn't be messed with.

I started thinking — what if we did the same with our ideas? What if we questioned them, shaped them and crafted them to exist at their most elemental state of both beautiful and functional? So many of my own ideas are muddied up with superfluous space/time wasters that might look cool but don't lend themselves to iconic design.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupery

It's a great feeling when you've created something that can neither be added to nor subtracted from without ruining it. You can know that you've created something that is what it's supposed to be. Nothing more. Nothing less. It's iconic.