Design & Beauty

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One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.
— Psalm 27:4

Dwell's Senior Front End Designer/Developer, Jordan Koschei, discusses design and beauty.

 One of the required classes at my small Christian liberal arts college was Civilization and the Arts. CivArts was the subject of much grumbling — what else did they expect, forcing a bunch of science and business majors to take an art appreciation class? And yet, almost eight years later, it's one of the classes I find myself thinking the most about.

CivArts was about art appreciation, but it was also about prompting loftier questions that you don't necessarily find in a class on engineering or political science. What is beauty? How do aesthetics relate to our experience with God?

Fast forward to the present day. I work as a designer, helping startups build websites and apps that are both functional and attractive. It's a practical job, but it also calls for some introspection on those same lofty questions. What is beauty? What makes a website or an app beautiful? Why does the mind respond well to some things and not to others?

I started at Dwell just over a month ago. Since then, I've been getting to know the team and the product, and have been thoroughly impressed by the focus on quality and beauty, both visible to the user and "under the hood." I've seen well-considered designs, elegantly-written code, and lovingly-recorded audio. Throughout all that, I've seen an unwavering focus on helping more people integrate the Gospel into their daily lives.

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As a designer, it's my job to think from the user's perspective:
- How will a user be able to interact with plans, playlists, and stories?
- How can we make Dwell beautiful for users with visual impairments?
- How can we make the Dwell experience simple and delightful?

There's a well-known saying in design circles: "Good design is as little design as possible." Ideally, you'll never have to think about the mechanics of using Dwell — the app should get out of the way so you can focus on Scripture.

A few blog posts ago, the artists at Prixel Creative who are working on Dwell said this: "God is the master artist, that's for sure."

I love that quote. God is an artist and a master craftsman, and He's made a beautiful Creation for us to occupy. Even better, in His infinite grace, He's seen fit to allow us to be participants in the creative process with Him. The world is unfinished — it has ground to be plowed and fields to be tilled, cities to be built, words to be written. We're made in God's image, and just as God loves to create and delight in His creation, we find joy in building things too.

Design is an opportunity to impose order on disorder, and to make abstract concepts feel tangible and within reach. That's about as pure an expression of that creative impulse as I know.

My sincere hope is that Dwell will be a beautiful product, not for its own sake, but because God is beautiful and we should seek to make things that reflect God. And if that's something you value too, I think you'll be delighted when you open up the app for the first time.

 

Jeff McFadden