Most of us don’t get to Nassau. It’s mostly a destination port for cruise ships and a layover spot for fisherman and travelers headed to secluded beach resorts. I’m guessing than no one has ever gone there for a study of good design. But I ended up doing just that, by accident. I was in Nassau for a morning and walked up the shore checking out a stretch of rambling colorful wood framed beach kiosks that lead up to a food destination known as Fish Fry (the place you want to eat if you ever find yourself in Nassau.)
The beach kiosks (examples above) are a series of quirky, random, hand crafted, naïve, colorful, display of human enterprise, and a pure expression of local culture. The structures and signage give you the same feeling as kid’s lemonade stands, they lack guile and artifice, and don’t demand to be taken too seriously. So what makes it good design? They serve a purpose, improve the environment, and connect you with local culture. This stretch was one of the only places where you could come in contact with the locals in a non-contrived manner. It’s authentic expression- and authenticity has the power to make modest quirky stuff like this beautiful. And the place makes you smile, a major criteria of good design.
This stretch of beach is the antidote to overbearing commercial brand approach to retailing that defines most of our modern world. Normally we shun logos and branding, but here was a clinic on how to make them palatable – they should be genuinely personal, non-repetitive, and subordinated to the other visual messages.
Consider these formal visual elements at play (noted above):
ECONOMY: No frills construction
PROPORTIONS: Human-scale form of pleasing dimensions
SIMPLICITY: No frou-frou copy – just the facts
UTILITY: Even the decorative elements serve a purpose
FORM: Classic simple shapes and surfaces
COLOR: Like a kids drawings, there are no holds barred.
CONTRASTS: No two building or signs or offerings are the same.
HUMOR: Can you view these hanging chips and not smile?
SYMMETRY: The visual balance makes these shacks easy on the eyes
Beauty and the Book – Holiday Gift Idea
Just like on this walk on the Nassau Beach, you’ll find plenty of beautiful, quirky stuff in my book, a decent holiday gift for anyone wishing to walk a little farther and look a little more closely at the amazing world in which we find ourselves.
Signed copies are available at lower than Amazon prices at PUBLIC $16.00.