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

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?

minus ten June 1999

id-magazine-cover-june-1999-1

ID’s first cut at judging media in 1999.

“minus ten” Is 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.

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 think 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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minus ten – May 1999

minus-ten-may-1999

“minus ten” is 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.

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.

minus ten – April 1999

id-mag-apil-19981

Here’s a new series that I’m going to try and keep up with call “minus ten”.  It’s 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.

id-mag-april-mac-1998

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

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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.

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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 wouldn’t be unhappy pulling one of those knifes out of my pocket today.

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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)

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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 – 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.