Aren't there already too many objects in the world?

This is the first question most designers ask themselves when considering their trade. Will I be making something helpful, or just adding to the pile of crap discarded by our consumer society?
I believe that if an object is beautiful, serves its function well, does no harm, and can be produced in a sustainable way, it deserves to exist.

What is "good design?"

In my opinion, good design creates beautiful objects. I don't belief the Modernist mantra that 'form should follow function.' I enjoy decoration. The decorative elements of my designs don't necessarily emerge from the function of each piece. Or perhaps they do, because for me, pleasing the senses is an important function of any object.
All the same, I strive to harmonize form and function. Whether I begin sketching with a specific purpose for the piece in mind, or only thinking of an interesting shape I wish to explore, by the time I have final drawings for the piece, I will have (I hope) designed an object that is aesthetically and functionally beautiful.
It's also very important to me that design be responsible. Good design addresses more than form and function. It addresses the object's function within society. How was it made? What purpose will it serve? How soon will it be discarded?

Are designers responsible for the effects of the products they design?

Of course they are. Like any person, a designer is responsible for their actions. A good designer will consider all aspects of the things they conceive: the resources used & waste produced in manufacturing the product; the working conditions of the people producing the product; the effects of the use of the product; the waste produced disposing of the product, etc.
I try to be a responsible designer and maker. Because I work in wood, I enjoy a much more direct relationship with my pieces than someone designing for industrial manufacture. I make sure my lumber comes from sustainable sources. As a self-employed craftsperson, I control my own working conditions. And my pieces are made to last for generations.

Does good design sell itself?

Yes. Good design has intrinsic appeal. People don't have to be taught to appreciate its value. Education in design can help people better express why they are drawn to this or that object. But even without a hoity-toity design vocabulary, people know what they like.

Does design have to be elitist?

These days, design is marketed like high fashion. It is used to enhance the mystique of expensive, high-end products. But this is just a gloss on the true nature of design. All objects are designed. The paper cup you buy your coffee in is as carefully designed as the latest sports car.
My pieces are more like sports cars than paper cups, but they are meant to be enjoyed by all. Because my pieces are handcrafted, they can be relatively expensive and this can put them out of reach for some. Is handcrafted furniture worth the price? I think so.

Is there room for craft in today's world of mass production?

Definitely. Mass produced doesn't mean poorly designed. Many of my favourite designs are made in the hundreds of thousands. But mass produced items can be impersonal.
Handcrafted designs are one-of-a-kind. They possess warmth thanks to the human touch of their makers. Most importantly, they can be tailored to the buyer's wishes. For more on this topic, see Is Handcrafted Furniture Worth the Price?

Can design help a troubled world?

There are so many things that need doing to make a better world. How does making furniture help slow the extinction of species, loss of wilderness, or global climate change? How does it increase tolerance of difference, equity between rich and poor, or trust between the sexes? I'm not sure. But I hope the beauty of my work nourishes people, so they can better tackle these problems.

What is Postmodernism, and will it ever end?

Furniture reveals a lot about society. It is more personal than architecture, and more permanent than fashion. What does today's furniture say about us, sipping espresso while sitting on contemporary stools, at modern tables, in post-modern buildings, at the beginning of the twenty-first century? Only time will tell. In the meantime, I hope you like my work!
© Jeff Hohner