We are experiencing a revolution and invigoration of the aesthetic in the world of consumer products and services. In the last few years, more products have differentiated themselves on their ability to look good… so good, in fact, that we feel compelled to use them. Apple is never far from this topic of discourse, but there are other organizations which, arguably without necessity, have incorporated design deeply into their mission. Those like Apple that have become synonymous with ‘good design’ are now reaping the tremendous benefit of this association, and in return for the consumer, the resulting wave is leading to a widespread improvement in realized (and expected) user experiences.

The great Paul Saffo, who I have had the privilege of meeting, has said that we have a tendency to overestimate our predictions of the short-term and to underestimate predictions of the long-term. Look at our current topic: design. Compare dreams of the future from the 1980s to what the ‘future’ is now. Boxy, huge, impersonal, metallic spaces such as were predicted? Or fun, intriguing, sexy, smooth, playful, and fewer glitches? Oscillations in our predictions of the future are caused by fashion and fad; the creation of short-term  improvement through the manipulation of stylistic expectations. ‘Epitome’ design is the least resilient – Web 2.0 glassy buttons and stark gradients applied to flat elements (they are mercifully becoming more subtle over time) may seem as outdated in a few years as gray javascript popups do now. However, this is not always a bad thing – the web gives companies more ability than ever before to keep iterating and to keep riding waves of epitome. It is surprising, in fact, how many people are employed in the distal cause of this endeavor.

The interesting and fundamental thing is – in the face of all of this effort and all of this change, what is the essence of technological progress? Amidst our industrial dreams and informational escapism, our real progress is always towards the humanistically natural, the consumer-centered, the ergonomic, and the organic.