My kitchen, like many other kitchens, has a built-in dishwasher. It’s an older dishwasher, probably more than ten years old, but it still works perfectly well. It’s also nicely designed on the inside, and has simple and intuitive controls.
However, my favorite thing about the dishwasher is what happens at the end of its wash cycle: it plays this really charming, corny jingle to indicate that it’s done. It’s just a few notes, and it lasts for just two or three seconds, but for some reason this jingle never fails to make me smile, and after a bit of reflection, I think I understand why:
I like when it’s obvious that the designers of a product had fun making it, and wanted to pass the fun along to the consumer in the form of a “signature” of sorts. The design of their product is so competent and so mature, that they can go beyond our baseline expectations and appeal to a higher-level aesthetic.
I think that’s the ultimate ideal to strive for: make the core functionality of your product work so well that you have enough design bandwidth left over to “show off” a bit. In other words, make your work seem effortless.