design for business
world design centers, california, london, tokyo, silicon alley, etc.
human centered design
changing people’s behaviour
changing the way people see the world
what ever happened to the simple pleasures, passion and beauty that good old fashioned design brings?
The recent NBA draft got me thinking, what does this have to do with design? You might think, “nothing” since American team sports and designers in general don’t seem to mix, maybe its that “I’m an artist” vs. “I’m a team player” mentality, but that’s for another post.
Work with me here for a sec. Let’s look at some NBA draft results over the course of a few years.
Atlanta Hawks – 2005 – Selected Marvin Williams ahead of Deron Williams and Chris Paul
Detroit Pistons -2003 – Selected Darko Milicic ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
Golden State Warriors – 1996 – Selected Todd Fuller over Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash
Los Angeles Clippers – 1988 – Selected Michael Olowokandi ahead of Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce
And arguably, the biggest mistake…
Portland Trail Blazers – 1984 – Selected Sam Bowie ahead of Michael Jordan
The process of the NBA draft is full of analysis. Players come in for workouts (testing prototypes), lots of statistics (intensive research), analysis on how they fit as part of the team (portfolio analysis), then ultimately making the selection (placing the bet on the product). The “companies” spend 2-3 years doing this research on any given player.
Look above again, all that testing, research and ultimately, placing the bet on how to move forward, sometimes, just doesn’t pay off. Look at how many “bets” ended up as busts.
The Design connection: lots of research, data and testing doesn’t always pay off, especially if the data is wrong (duh, but lots of people don’t realize they are just looking at bad data), as in the examples above. Even if the research was right, just seems like there are so many other factors that can turn things upside down that data doesnt seem to uncover. What’s the current economic condition? What’s the competition doing? Did your product/idea have a hidden flaw? Your product tested well, but just didn’t perform in the real world, that’s full of so many unknowns. But that’s what’s great about life, it always throws you a curve. (sorry for the mixed sports metaphor)
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate research, but i also think you can’t go overboard and you can’t let that drive every last decision you make.
Sometimes, you just gotta let passion drive…
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.
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.
Karim Rashid’s work for Issey Miyake = Ahead of Time simple clean lines and forms, so clean that maybe even puts this in the Test of Time category. What year was it that he went the way of the blobject? I wonder if Issey was heavily directing the project? If you don’t think the square, simple lines were ahead of time…then take at look below, won’t find a sqaure or a simple line in what got stuck.
How many ellipses can you put on a product? How many ellipses can you use to shape a product? How many ellipses can you put together, to make other shapes, that, look like ellipses? Ellipses = Stuck in Time
And back to the sharp edge, this design from what I understand, put the Cadillac division in the black. 4 years after the concept, the 2003 CTS showed up in the Matrix Reloaded and whether or not you think this car started the chamfer/sharp/edgy forms, it was clearly Ahead of Time.
Oh and frog on the back cover, touting web design, for the SFMOMA.
From ID Magazine, May 1999.
In early May, SGI went chapter 11. They were definitely one of the companies that were hard driving the look and feel of the Silicon Valley boom of the 90’s. I just thought it would be appropriate to show a few of the products back in the day. Hmmm, what would be the lessons learned from this era? Don’t dress up products in plastic skirts. Plastic capes never look real, especially when molded in blue. Don’t design after watching Phantom of the Opera and while on mind altering matter.
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.
Back in the 70s, Dodge made cars on steriods. Barracuda, Hemi Cuda, Roadrunner, Charger all stuffed with Hemi’s and 440 was the displacement to have. Throw on dual quads and you’d be getting, about 3 miles a gallon! Mopar defined what it meant to be a muscle car. Big engines, bold style and tasty chrome treatments. Fast forward to 2006 and we have the new Challenger.
Let’s look at the design. Its really, really close to the original, but different. Its softer, the belt line is now just a tiny little crease to catch a highlight. That line used to be so pronouced, you could just about place a beer can on it. The front end has lost its aggresive, shark like, i’m going to eat you alive look. Now it looks like a cute baby shark that hasnt had its first taste of surfer yet. And where’s the chrome? I have to say, i’m dissappointed. It looks like Barry Bonds coming off steriods, the outline is there, but what defines the muscle has faded and is turning into fat.
I feel like with the Big 3 are running out of new ideas and have lost the guts to create what made legends: Mustang, Camaro, Firebird, Corvette, GTO and the list goes on. Today, we just get a range of ok to bad reproductions with working A/C.
What has the better design? The original or updated Challenger?
Total Voters: 2
Can this be a good thing? Here are two things that started out ugly upon intro, then turned into classics and created brands that still exist today. What’s the cause of this? Was it a tipping point? Or some disruptive technology? Or some designer trying to be different. Or just a component of time and dumb luck? Maybe a mix of all.
1985 Air Jordans, if these shoes were Air Quintens, would they have done so well? In Jordan’s book, Driven from Within, one passage goes something like this. Tinker (of Nike) shows prototype shoes to Michael (and I think they were the black versions, even uglier), MJ says, these shoes are ugly; I’m not wearing these on the court. Tinker convinces him to give them a try. A week or so later, MJ says, man, these shoes feel great, they’re light and provide great support, but everyone on the team are laughing at the way these shoes look, Tinker goes on to say, but MJ, they ARE looking at your shoes, right??…Michael got it and went with it. A big part of the success of Jordan I’s, they got noticed. Sure it helped that MJ went on to be the best player ever in the NBA (my opinion). Regardless, a brand is born.
1985 Suzuki GSXR 750. This bike was just not a nice looking bike. This was the same year Kawasaki came out with the Ninja and everyone wanted that bike, even the name “Ninja” and the ad campaign, samurai’s cutting things up. To bikers obsessed with speed and being fast, that was bad ass! Long story short, the GSXR cut up the circuit in the amateur ranks and quickly became THE bike to have if you were serious about riding. The bike went through some “aero” redesign in 1988, but the GSXR legend had been established and a brand was born. Yeah, one might say it’s still ugly, but take a close look at the 1996 Ducati Monster. Slightly odd sculpting and proportions, and with the GSXR fairings off, lots of similarity. I’m not saying the Italians ripped off Suzuki, but maybe were inspired by something in the past. (That is if you think the Monster is a nice looking bike)
Seems like sometimes ugly can work. But ugly can’t stand on its own. Performance, it has to be there. Oh, and strong advertising helps too, like Spike Lee said, “its gotta be the shoes”. That said in today’s world, beauty can’t stand on its own either. In a perfect world, things would start off beautiful, have the performance and/or depth to back it up AND get the right stories told about it. The world isn’t perfect but here’s something to think about. As nature proves, some things start off ugly, but reach a state of beauty, like butterflies or babies! (Come on, babies in the first few minutes, not so nice!!) So that must mean there’s always hope for things, ugly.
The new H3 looks like a shrunken version of the H2. Can you tell which one is a 2 or 3? Doesn’t this go against what Hummer is all about, BIG, BOLD, MILITARY? If people want a small hummer, I guess that’s cool, but could GM have done something different? They had to retool most of the exterior body panels right? Why not make some good design changes? Was this the easy thing to do? “Jim, scale the CAD files down to 70%.” Was this what “consumers” wanted? “I want a small hummer, ooh that would be cute!” If so, maybe consumers don’t care about what all the brand experts develop and communicate. Do consumers want their personal version of whatever is they think is hot? Maybe GM did this because Apple seems to keep shrinking ipods and it seems to work for them!
Stick to you guns. From my brand point of view, what GM just did would be analogous to using the same design for the current Mini and blowing it up into a “mid sized” station wagon. Would that still be a Mini? I guess they could rename it “Midi”, but that might confuse all the people out there in the music world.
Oh, the image on the bottom is the H3.