minus ten July 1999

id-mag-cover-july-1999

“minus ten”. A look back 10 years 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.

Hey how about that, my friend Paul Pierce’s work ON THE COVER!  I wonder what he thinks of this thing now!

ID Annual 1999, there’s gotta be some good pickin’s for this post:

Stuck in Time:

astro-1999

group shots are always stuck in time…can you say big balls!

Ahead of Time

audi-tt-1999

OK i may be biased, I lined up and paid extra to get this car…call me a sucker.

Ahead of Time AND Stuck

ebooks-1999

above, dated, below better, but those triangle buttons, dated, the concept of ebook readers….AHEAD

WAY Stuck in Time, actually BEHIND the times…

printer-1999

Memphis Group disbanded in 1988, this was designed in 1999…uh hello?

Test of Time

fluke-1999

So this may not win a beauty contest, (oh wait, it did!) but this aesthetic has definitely stood the test of time for this type of product.  The colors have a stood the test of time…Rugged.

So I’m a little disappointed that there weren’t more things that stood the test of time or were ahead of time.  Some things that made this issue I had already covered…Karim for Issey Miyake but that’s about it. LOTs of stuff that got stuck, frog, lunar (me!), apple, ideo, phillips all guilty.

There was one product from Design Central that was way ahead of time, but only got a shitty black and white spot and honorable mention. They did a rubberized shoe, form fitting, all one piece, molded in tread…copied several years later, or uh borrowed or mistakenly reinvented by the likes of fuseproject, crocs and any student who did a shoe project and knew how to use alias.

shoe-copy

From ID Magazine July 1999

ID Annual – B+W Zepplin

Ok, my take on this is I like the speaker itself, the detailing looks nice, I’ll take Johns word for the build quality being great, but I don’t like this pairing with the ipod. I typically don’t prescribe thinking that calls for matchy matchy, meaning “if the ipod is square, lets make the speaker system square”. (Apple did for their own speaker system) In this case, the two elements are so strong and pure individually, I believe they don’t really mix well together.

ID Annual – Belkin TuneStudio

What i like best about this is that the designers didn’t try to “celebrate” the ipod. What do I mean by that? They kept it low profile within the unit. Most devices will have your ipod waving like a flag shouting, “hey look at me, I’m an ipod stuck into this box!” For this kind of consumer, dj’s and musicians, its a great way to break both your $300 ipod and $300 mixer.

Here’s my dilemma about this product and its more about positioning and target consumers than design, which I think is right on. Here’s what the Belkin site says. “Whether you are a novice podcaster or an experienced musician, TuneStudio integrates the iPod with a full-featured, four-channel mixer, making it easy for you to create high-quality recordings.” This thing sells for $399 from Belkin. I just paid the same for this recorder from Olympus.

I’m a musician and definitely find the Belkin product really cool, BUT, I already have a mixing board, and nowadays, they come with lots of options to get your files to a PC. I bought the Olympus for recording rehearsals because of it’s ultra portability…built in mics, records straight to mp3, great battery life. The Belkin is small enough to be portable, but then I’m not sure if its the best portable option available. And its really not that portable, because it doesn’t run on batteries and you still need to bring mics. This won’t replace my mixing boards either as it doesnt have enough inputs to handle what I need. Maybe even more important, if this is a recorder…most on the fly recording boards either plug into a PC and syncs with associated software to control levels of each channel on screen. I’m not sure if this can do that…Belkin, why don’t you send me one to play with!

I do know of local radio DJ that mentioned to me that he would like a two track system to do simple voice overs onto a music tracks, but ultimately, he just wants software so he can control the fade and mix. I do like the design, but at $399, I’m not sure what audience will snap this up, maybe the podcaster more so than the experienced musician.

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.

ID Annual – Belkin Cable Dome


Belkin has been producing some really nice products lately. This one is probably not one of my favorites and makes me wonder what else was entered in the category. I’m sure it works well, but for example, to make this product work WITHOUT screws or “heavy” double stick would have been a real trick and worth the Distinction award.

Their Power series is nice as well a lots of other products they produce.

ID Annual – Y Water – Fuseproject

The website is more fun than the bottles! You really need to check it out here. The flavor story is really smart as it implies feeding the basic building blocks of the body and the bottles in turn respond by allowing kids to create fun molecular structures.

This won a Design Distinction award. I’m not sure if this was presented as a whole with web communications or not, but this to me could have been best of category. Maybe they just judged just the bottle itself, but the entire story here makes for a great “consumer product”.

PS. Y Water claims to be Organic, but funny that you can’t easily find the ingredients of Y Water on the website. If it’s there, its not that easy to find. Some post a link if you can find it.

Another fuseproject product, that wasn’t as impressive, yet an award winner.

ID Annual – Smith Brim Helmet – Jackalope

This is a nice tweener positioned product statement right between the standard bike helmet aesthetic (zoomy fast) and the “I’m a rebel” military like snowboard helmets. The cool graphic lines seem to be missing on the production version. Oh well.

Would I wear it? Probably not as i don’t like fixed ear covers. I wanna have the flexibility of having ear protection or not.

—-more thoughts.

Something bugged me about this design…it looks like the designers made an attempt to make plastic “feel” more like something soft…maybe it was the fake printed stitching or the mini bill (both which i thought were cool). Or maybe it was seeing the NYC Helmet towards the end of the review. Oh well, I still feel like its successful.

the 54th ID Design Annual is out!

The 54th Annual Design Review is out and I thought it might be interesting to do 1 minute crits of some of the products. Why 1 minute? Well that’s about all the time I have to spend on each crit and based on the fact that your average consumer spends about 2.3 seconds (Eyetrack III) on an image in the web, I thought it would be interesting to present the knee-jerk reaction/review of the winners.

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 though 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?