ipad leapfrogs all

So lucky for me that Nook had production delivery problems. That just saved me $500. Now I’ll just wait for the ipad to come out.

On that note of products being late…that’s just a killer when it comes to generating sales and making business numbers. Designers should know this, but often don’t really assimilate the impact of being late and its consequences on the business.  What does that mean to the design process? Start earlier? So What? Better late than never?!

nook leapfrogs kindle

Ok, i want one of these…there was something about the kindle, that made me wonder if I should plunk down $300, uh ok, $250 (since the intro of nook).  I was unsure when I wrote about this a while back and am now certain, that i won’t buy a kindle.

nook

For now, until i can go to Barnes and Noble to buy one, my thoughts based on what i’ve read on the web and what i can see in pics:

Look: winner Nook – ok the Nook is nice and clean, not a stunning design, the Kindle 2…pretty darn bland, i can see the braun/rams/bauhaus inspiration, but, still just too plain. And the original Kindle, well honestly, that thing was pretty ugly, I mean, look at that keyboard.

Kindle-orig

Technology: winner Nook – dual screens, gotta love it
UI: winner Nook – jury out, but the potential of, the dual screens!
Experience – Nook – bring it to a Barnes and Noble and read stuff for free. Phyigital Reality, making digital things act like real life things
Cool Factor: Nook

kindle-2

why so deep?

strategic design

cultural invention

experience design

meaningful experiences

design thinking

business design

design for business

service design

world design centers, california, london, tokyo, silicon alley, etc.

design research

human centered design

humanizing technology

changing people’s behaviour

changing the way people see the world

analysis paralysis

what ever happened to the simple pleasures, passion and beauty that good old fashioned design brings?

Time Warp: June 1999

id-magazine-cover-june-1999-1

ID’s first cut at judging media in 1999.

Time Warp Is a look back to see what was going on. I’ll pick out what I feel got Stuck in Time, good or bad design that was clearly of the moment. Ahead of Time will be a look at something that had brought some insight to the future and finally, the Test of Time will soon be design classics, at least imho.

Issue of ID before the Annual is always light, not very many ads from the consultants as they we all saving their pennies for the Annual.  Regardless, I was able to find a couple of nuggets.

John Maeda was making jaws drop in 1994 with Reactive Square, Flying letters and in then in 1998 with Tap, Type, Write.  This stuff is still great and WAY Ahead of Time. Its a shame that it only runs on a PowerPC.

tap-type-write-june-1999

Oh, and look at young John back then!

john-maeda-june-19992

Heres something that i used to like.  The Motorola iden phone was clearly a memorable design.  But does it stand the test of time?  It’s Stuck. Those damned ellipses!

iden-phone-june-19993

From ID Magazine, June 1999.

tropicana packaging

tropicana-packaging

Arnell Group did the design of the new Tropicana package.  Seems like a lot of people hate it, so much that Tropicana are going back to the old design. Designers like it, most of my non designer friends don’t. Tropicana went back to the old packaging stating that consumers liked to see the orange with the straw, but they still paid the consultant a lot of money to make the change.

Was this a case of consultants trying to convince the client to do something that was “designed well” and to ignore consumer sentiment?  Well Tropicana agreed to change the package, at least for a while.

The clients ARE responsible for making decisions, regardless of what famous consultant is providing the advice.  That’s a big part of why I’m getting a taste of being the client…I know that I have the ultimate responsibility and accountability for decisions that get made, regardless of who might be whispering in my ear.

Google Tropicana packaging, lots of passionate dialog on this.

Which Tropicana design do you like better?

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iriver doing nice work

iriver2

Some might say they are riffing off Apple and some might say the design is so simple, its boring.  It also has a bit of mid 80’s Japanese electronics feel, think Sony back then.  I just played with the Spinn for a bit.  It’s definitely a nice product.  OLED display is awesome and the build quality is solid.

iriver1

The Visual Media is really nice as well, simple swiss grid like feel.  They are also talking about a new home screen they are calling “magazine” style on some of their other big screen products.  I think its a really fresh take on media design.  It goes beyond the Apple jelly style buttons, or any buttons for that matter, you just interact with the media itself.  But their website, ugh, in this case, Flash doesnt have anything to do with how fast you can view all of their products.  The site is really painful to navigate as well. That said, the UI on the Spinn was a little strange combining touch and physical control in a way that wasn’t naturally intuitive.

sony_walkman_1

You gotta love the original walkman, it changed the game in personal electronics. 1979…wow.

Challenger challenge

challenger_ces_og

From a previous post, I bashed the new Dodge Challenger Life After Steroids. Well I actually got to see both the original and new Challenger at CES and now can give you an in person assessment. I still like the original.  The new is nice, but doesnt have the flair of the original.

challenger_ces2

What do you think?

Which version of the Dodge Challenger do you like the best?

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The successful Kindle

Below is my reply to Bruce Nussbaum’s Design blog about the Kindle titled “Amazon’s Kindle Is A Success–Hooray For Designer Bob Brunner.” I’ve modified my post below a bit so it makes sense without reading Bruce’s post and the readers comments.

Does good design make a product “successful”? Does bad design kill the chances of success? From the replies above, we have a UI and Experience professional saying the ergonomics of the Kindle are bad. Walt Mossberg also confirms this in his review. We’ve also got someone pointing out that “ecosystem” is what is making this successful. And finally, the host of this column (Bruce) says its Oprah and Bob’s great design work, which once again, some folks aren’t happy with. And now we can go back to the start and continue to debate the Kindle’s success. But let’s not.

What also makes this interesting is that we’ve got some very qualified folks speaking to the pros and cons of this device. Of course, they probably haven’t debated in person on this topic, but all present a different POV on the product’s success. So what is the missing component here in this dialog of design? According to Amazon’s figures, its the 240,000 consumers who have bought this thing. What I wonder is, how many of these consumers are “design saavy or qualified” like the blogger and the responders here? And, as Rob (a responder) points out, I’ll bet that those 240,000 people trust Oprah more than any of us qualified “designers”.

I’m a product designer as well, I know Andy and Bob and they both do great work. On a similar, yet off path…What I’ve always wondered about is the Designer/Consumer taste barometer, that is when the consumer wants something that most designers don’t. Like fake wood grain for instance, the designers fight it, “oh my god, there is no way I’ll put fake wood grain on a product”. Yet, somehow, with all those designers fighting it, that fake wood still gets out in the market!

I guess the other question is, is a commercially successful product, always well designed? Seems like, not.



ID Annual – Nokia Pocketable Speakers

These are small (122 x 32 x 33.5mm) about the length of a candy bar style phone and about 2-3 times as thick (depending on which phone you’re comparing it to). Here’s what I wonder, in the ID magazine shot, the red detail looks very shiny, in the shot from Nokia above, the red accents have matte finish, are more saturated and darker in value. Personally, I like the matte finish, seems more sophisticated and if they are the functional rubber component of the driver, then it really makes sense. The glossy finish from the ID shot makes it look like a toy.

Things this small demand exquisite attention to detail and flawless execution.

The retractable cord is a very nice feature, nice detail.

mistake of judgement or lack of experience?

So when I started this blog, I thought I would be reviewing and criticizing products. Realizing that I cant really do that without having the actual product in hand…I have to rely on the same old sources…ID annual, T3, iF selections, etc. etc.

After reading the latest ID Annual and seeing that the Herman Miller Leaf lamp was selected best of category, I thought to myself, “wow, this must have impressed the jurors”. I thought this because in print and pictures, this lamp really didn’t seem all that impressive. So i promptly went to the local Design Within Reach to check this thing out. Lighting design is no easy feat, especially if you’re attempting to defy gravity without utilizing some of the traditional structural elements that go with lighting, cables, pulleys, springs, etc.

The good? There’s nice detailing around the LEDs and diffuser; the fact they used LED’s is a nice progression towards efficient lighting solutions. A small detail caught my eye at the base of the lamp. A Ying-Yang like detail was sculpted into the surface…running your fingers over the surfaces acts as a dimmer for the lamp. Nice touch. Visually, it works as its a play off the lamp arms as they fold together.

The Bad? Upon first sight, I unfortunately was underwhelmed. My thoughts hadn’t changed from pictures to in person. At first touch, the lamp shakes like an inexpensive ikea lamp…maybe the shaking is part of the “leaf” metaphor…blowing in the wind? Visually, the lamp arms look similar to some of the new, modern bicycle frame components using stamped construction, only AFTER a bad wipeout or an unfortunate encounter with a car, bent and twisted. I’m not sure how this is the “21st century sequel to the Tizio.” Interesting, if you read the ID magazine review, it states…”Priestman was reticent because he hadn’t seen the lamp in person…” well how the hell do you judge something when you haven’t had the chance to experience it first hand? (topic for another post…judging books by their covers)

Interestingly, I hired Yves Behar, the designer of this lamp while I was VP of Design at Lunar Design. Yves is extremely talented and much of his work shows this. I’m just not that happy with this latest piece, I wonder if he is?

WTF: this stinks!

Upon first sight, one might look at this say, “WTF?!” that’s what I said. Then you learn about what this does, and find out it’s a USB odor eater, then you add, NS! (No Shit). Note that Digiscent made this way done back in 2000 so this was on the leading edge of stupid USB devices, but realize that Digiscent never got this into production, for better or worse. Go to CES, or just look in the monthly Skymall and you’ll find all kinds of weird USB devices, we have beer coolers and mini fans, so is the idea of the DigiScent really that stupid? Yes it was, well the design certainly was.

Here’s how a little marketing and design might change your thinking. Check out this little device I found in a catalog. (note, the design is still pretty bad, but the new form factor may give some life to this idea) It’s a small USB device that works pretty much like one of those heated glade room fresheners. Ok, its still a little stupid especially if you’re not into weird smelling room fresheners. But this one states, “small and portable, great for any small spaces, smoky hotel rooms, offices, and cubicles. Each ScentStick lasts about 4-5 days and can be easily refilled…”. Here’s the ScentStick, it looks small, like a normal USB stick and very portable. Considering that I just back from a really smelly “non smoking” room in a hotel, hmmmm maybe.

They also describe their scents as being subtle; they claim the scent has the effect of a candle and not your standard, overpowering household sprays. And finally, they make a green claim in that there’s minimal waste. You keep the main USB Stick and recycle the refills that are aluminum CO2 like cartridges. Compared to the Digiscent, the ScentStick almost makes scents. (had to say it!) And this is mostly because of the small, portable form factor. So change your mind about a USB odor eater yet? Maybe, maybe not, but you gotta admit that this iteration does make this product a lot more palatable.

And since were on stupid USB products, lets add to the list, how about: A USB “cooling” pad to keep those hot laptops cool and prevent your thighs from burning up. Wanna look good for the meeting, get a USB nose hair trimmer combined with Apple’s mirror widget, then you can clean up your clippings with a USB vacuum, to get all the stuff out of your keyboard. Btw, the ScentStick is fake, but the DigiScent thing was real, at least in prototype form.

Steriods done right!

Here’s a classic done right. From Ducati’s website “The 750 Imola Desmo is one of the most famous bikes in the world. It is best known, and, of course named for, its victory with Paul Smart and Bruno Spaggiari in the 200 mile race at Imola in 1972 – one of the most spectacular in racing history.” This bike put Ducati on the map in the racing world and from there, Ducati quickly became a force to be reckoned with.

This is the new Imola. The details are impeccable and it captures the essence of the original bike. One thing that’s clear is it definitely brings modern technology into play. The new tech shows through, which makes the bike different, but doesn’t detract from original design. It’s raw AND refined. It’s a skillful execution taking a classic and creating a modern reproduction. (maybe I’m biased since I own a Ducati?!) Read my post about “life after steroids”. Let me know what you think.