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?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Time Warp: May 1999

minus-ten-may-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.

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.

karim-19991

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

altitude-1999

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.

cadillac-1999

Oh and frog on the back cover, touting web design, for the SFMOMA.

From ID Magazine, May 1999.

Time Warp: April 1999

id-mag-apil-19981

A look back years ago 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.

id-mag-april-mac-1998

Stuck in time: Apple blue G3, man those colors…

————————————————————–

id-mag-april-kodak-1998

Ahead of time: Give Kodak credit for going green on this recyclable camera, BUT
Stuck in time: this design got hit with the ugly stick.

—————————————————————

id-mag-april-knifes-1998

Test of Time: Knifes, the dots are a bit stuck, and the colors are more neutral than they look above, but I’d be happy to pull one of those knives out of my pocket today.

————————————————————-

id-mag-april-house-1998

Ahead of time: This aesthetic for the mini home was definitely ahead.  It looks like it could have come out of Dwell magazine last year.

From ID Magazine, April 1999.

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.

Do polls matter?

polls

Designers typically hate it when people “vote” to make design decisions.

I just figured out how to add polling software to this blog…so how about this, a poll about a poll…

do you like polls? (select as many answers as you like)

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

the Jenga Economy

The economy has been a like game, one where people have built up an interwoven, towering system, full of money, profit and excess. It starts with a small Tower, filled with resources. Each player takes turns, removing resources without regard to the overall system. They reinvest what they have taken, to make that tower bigger with the goal to create the biggest empire possible. Sounds fun yeah? The Tower is growing, people are making money, everyone is happy. The only thing the players see is that growing Tower of wealth, and even though its right in front of their faces, its foundation is becoming weaker and weaker. They have selfishly used all the resources without regard to the overall system. Something about the game won’t let them stop, many could walk away rich but the game entices them to keep going. In the end, it all comes crashing down. Everything was dependent on each other…and everyone is out. Remind you of Jenga? Let’s hope there wont be a Jenga Environment that comes crashing down on us as well. So what to do? Fortunately, there’s hope with President Obama in office. People on the top floor of that Tower, all now hangin’ with everyone, at the bottom. So time to band together and rebuild, collectively as one. From Barack’s inauguration, “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.” Thanks to Dan Clements for the conversation that led to the jenga analogy.

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.

Design Principles – A summary…

Below is a list of design tag lines. I’ve always been interested in how we explain what we do to design savvy folks while in elevator pitch mode. So this list is a start.

Hundreds say something like this: “NameHere is a product development consultancy focused on design, strategy, market, user interface and research, industrial design and engineering.” Some are a bit more poetic. “…user desires, business needs, design vision…” Below are the more unique entries I’ve found:

DESIGNERS

John Maeda – “Simplicity”
Ross Lovegrove – “Organic minimalism”
Santiago Calatrava – “Repetition…” (because nature often works in patterns) designer of the Chicago Spire

CONSULTANCIES

Ammunition – “Don’t play the game, change the game…Loaded”
Astro – “We create supercharged products and brands”
frogdesign – “form follows emotion”
Fuseproject – “Design brings stories to life”
Lunar Design – “Creativity that makes a difference”
New Deal Design – Get Real
Smart Design, 11 Design – (roughly) Making people’s lives better.
Teague – “…establishing perspective.”

CORPORATIONS

Krups – “Passion, Precision, Perfection”
Philips – “Sense and Simplicity”
Porsche Design – “The Engineers of Passion. Pure, functional and technically innovative”

(ok, i’m just starting this list, if you got some interesting ones for me to add, post a reply)

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?

Sottsass and Miami Vice: commonalities?

Are we ready for the return of Memphis? Has the clean simple look run it’s course? Will the Apple iphone not look like an ipod with a dial pad but have big bold round shapes, oh, uh ok, the 2nd gen Imac did that…you remember, round hemisphere, rectangular display… Well whoever designed this little gem for Krups had memphis on the mind. My question, is that Sottsass frowning? Or, maybe Krups commissioned some guy, oh say Matteo Thun to do this piece. Well, just to be sure, i checked his website Matteothun.com and didnt find this in any of his recent product design work…but I did find that he designed the nice little espresso cups for illy, modern, but playful.

Well back to original question, is Memphis making a comeback? Early 80’s, you know Miami Vice, pink and teal. 20 years old, that’s about the right time for a new take on retro. Let’s think about this, Miami Vice was remade…and pink, well pink was a big hit last year, so is Memphis ready?…you decide.