The Beauty & Performance Of Ferrari Design

You’ve probably heard the phrase “form follows function”. It’s a popular one amongst many different disciplines of design and suggests the performance of a thing must always be ahead of the beauty; aesthetics are not as important. Certainly, if designing a product or app the function of it (how it works) must come before the form (the visual) if we were forced to choose, and design is usually presented as a choice between those things — it’s not really valuable or even considered design at all if the form is given any more significance than 2nd place. Something, something the “dribbble-ization of design.”

I’m not sure how this became such a wildly held belief amongst designers. Especially as Dieter Rams’ principles of design are treated with as much respect as any design theory written. Because, the most interesting of Rams’ principles is the 3rd: “Good Design Is Aesthetic.”

The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products we use every day affect our person and our well-being. But only well-executed objects can be beautiful. — Dieter Rams

I think there are specific instances in design, mostly product or UI, where aesthetics are not important. A thing just needs to be a thing that does a thing. I dont really care what my clothes hangars look like as long as they hold up my jacket in the closet.

But what design should aim to be I think, is as Dieter Rams puts it: beautiful and functional at the same time. The sweet spot in design isn’t when form follows function, but when both are balanced and something performs well while also being beautiful.


This is the basis for auto design and in my opinion, no other auto maker has balanced performance and beauty like Ferrari — 2 words that define the Ferrari brand. Ferrari has always been about going fast. They have made cars that go faster and faster through their entire history. Whenever they have added a wing, spoiler, curve, or crease for achieving more speed, they have never sacrificed the aesthetic of the car. Not to say everything they’ve ever made looks amazing, but with as many cars as they have produced, you have to like their overall track record. (bad pun)

This is not Ferrari’s style, it is their creative voice. It is what they believe an automobile should be at it’s core, what design should be, what creates the Ferrari experience and lust and if it lacks in either area, it is not a good car.

That kind of design voice is something I am leaning towards more and more in my own work. I don’t care how well a site or app or anything works, if its not aesthetically pleasing. I think the world would be a much better looking place and breed better designers if we all designed like Ferrari.

brandon moore