Setting the Record straight on “make good things”

During my graduate study at NC State, I was visited in the studio by Professor Roger Clark. I was tired, I was frustrated, and as he left he simply said “make good things.” Now, a single moment in my memory, I do not recall him ever saying it again. Apparently, according to my colleague, Rebecca Necessary, he said “make good things” all the time.
Fast-forward and I find myself teaching my first studio at Lawrence Technological University. Late one night I received an email from a tired, frustrated student. I wrote what I felt was a thoughtful response, but in the end, I could only do so much to help this student. So, without thinking, my salutation was “make good things,” not my typical “Best.” It seemed to fit. Then, to my surprise, I started seeing the quote show up on scrawled trace paper notes on the wall of my studio.

It seems like a simple statement, but I personally think about it a lot. Recently, Pandush Gaqi, the current makeLab fellow, asked me (in jest) “shouldn’t it be make great things?” My answer: “no, because by substituting ‘great’ with ‘good’ there is an assertion that you have reached a level of design that affords rest. So, therefore striving for good implies continuous “practice” and that what we are making is only one in a long series of projects. So, if we keep making good things we may one day be fortunate and achieve something great.”

-Thanks Roger

2 thoughts

  1. Jim,

    I love this statement! And what a great explanation — in design or in other creative efforts, we should always strive for continuous improvement. In class, we talk about every business having a mantra — a short, simple statement that can sums up the reason for the business. I can think of nothing better than yours for the good things MakeLab is doing.

    Karen Evans
    http://creativeentrepreneurship.wordpress.com

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