Design Advice from Ellen Lupton
Think more, design less.
Many desperate acts of design (including gradients, drop shadows, and the gratuitous use of transparency) are perpetrated in the absence of a strong concept. A good idea provides a framework for design decisions, guiding the work.
Spend more, buy less.
Cheap stuff is usually cheap because of how it's made, what it's made of, and who made it. Buy better quality goods, less often.
(from the appendix titled Free Advice, p.171)