Mark Tan

The Copenhagen-based fashion designer Mark Kenly Domino Tan talks about what constitutes good design.

What is ‘good’ design? ”

Many have attempted to answer this question, but not Mark Tan. “It’s dangerous to be the judge of what constitutes good design. Good design is subjective, so you can’t judge or quantify its virtue. It doesn’t really seve a purpose to divide design into good and bad, as all design is, in some way, useful or meaningful to someone.

Dieter Rams’ 10 principles for design set out to define exactly what makes design good or bad, inspiring generations of designers after him. Like Rams, Tan believes that good design makes a product useful, is thorough down to the last detail, long-lasting, and honest. ‘But design isn’t just about how something looks,’ says Tan. ‘Our personal relationship to the objects we surround ourselves with – whether or not they make us feel safe and secure – creates a framework for our lives.’

Largely uninterested in the world of things, Mark Tan’s is a self-professed minimalist, drawn to simple yet complex forms and the way in which raw, unadorned materials can be unearthed or expanded to their limits. To him, that is the essence of good design. ‘We’re all minimalists in some way. The world we live in demands a spartan approach to consumption. I have always lived my life based on the theory that little but good makes me happy. I feel free. I am not attached to objects. Things make me feel claustrophobic,’ he says.