Design Thinking: Supernormal Design


I have been reading up on “supernormal” design for the past week and I have to say, it is one of the deepest and most intriguing concept I have come across. It simply gives you the so near yet so far kind of vibe, and one moment you think you got it, but at another moment, you just feel that you could not catch up with how defining the term can be. It seems so easy, yet at the same time it takes effort to notice it. After reading through and trying my best to understand, I have decided to weigh in my thoughts regarding it.

Brief background:

Supernormal design was brought to light very famously by 2 designers, Jasper Morrison and Naoto Fukasawa when they compiled 204 everyday objects and displayed them, in search of “supernormal”. There were objects ranging from plastic bag to design objects like the Swiss Rex vegetable peeler. Supernormal was always there, its presence was unnoticed, yet at the same time we see it every day. What Jasper Morrison and Naoto Fukasawa did was simply to bring it to the public. 


Naoto Fukasawa(left) & Jasper Morrison(right)

Picture taken from:


Supernormal exhibition: Featuring 204 normal everyday lives product

PIcture taken from:

What is supernormal design?

Supernormal, is it something we see every day, or is it just simply another design movement or term like the art nouveau or minimalism? In my honest opinion, supernormal exist in our everyday lives. We see it, we feel it, heck, we might even be using it, but often we do not realize the presence of such normal, simple designs. Supernormal is whereby when you put a product into a design exhibition, people will actually think that it is a product from the facility, and not even a design piece. Supernormal happens when the product does not outdo its function or aesthetics, it quietly compliments with the surrounding, though uncompromising, but not prominent in normal environment.

Putting it in another way, supernormal means: Wonderfully ordinary.

Why supernormal?

A lot of designs nowadays always try to do away from the norm, the standard. It always becomes a statement piece, a piece with the “wow” factor. Although it is not wrong at all by designing to impress, but at times we feel that the origins slowly fades away. When all the glamour of the aesthetics really takes over the original functionality, the product loses its normality and marches towards a statement design. It is not a must to have normal designs, but in my opinion, from time to time, it’s always nice to know what you are holding is something that is actually functional, something that feels right and looks normal.

In conclusion, I think that although it is totally up to each individual designer to go all out with their designs, but supernormal is, ironically a fresh concept to have in designs. Sometimes designs carry themselves as a solo identity, but what supernormal does is when you group all of them together, you will not feel a sense of discomfort thinking one of the product or design in that group looks out of place.

Think Supernormal.

Disclaimer: Opinions in the above article is made solely by me alone. It does not speak for the public or any of the readers. Pictures taken from the web do not belong to me and it will be credited to the original website itself. If there are any disagreements or questions, please feel free to contact me at

  1. kingofloosechange reblogged this from thinkwithdesign and added:
    Something that we need to be thinking about in design. What products are you making and how will they be seen?
  2. thinkwithdesign posted this
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