Time Warp: June 1999


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.


Oh, and look at young John back then!


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!


From ID Magazine, June 1999.

Razr tech

This post is a response to a debate about the Razr antenna location. Here’s my educated guess.

The parts shown at the top are listed as the antenna cover and the antenna itself is assembled in the same space over the speaker assembly. These parts are from CNN as the links show. The external antenna connector would seem to confirm that the antenna is located down at the bottom of the phone and not the top.

The antenna is down low, just another reason why this phone is so different from the rest.

Asymmetry, ooooh, polarizing!

Why is it when designers propose solutions that are asymmetrical, non designers (and some designers as well) get scared? Is it because the human body is predominately symmetrical? Is it because of da Vinci’s fascination and documentation around proportion and symmetry outlined in the Vitruvian Man? Or are people just scared of something that isn’t centered?

Here are two examples of asymmetrical designs, one good and one, not so good. The good one has great fluidity and dynamism. Despite its asymmetry, the forms and detail have a great sense of balance. The bad example, looks like it may have started off in the right place, with a nice sketch, but then someone got scared and forced some symmetry back into the design. Notice how the keypad layout just doesn’t feel right with the asymmetrical gesture of the product. The end result is just bad.

“Designers” get bad reputations for producing a “bad design” when products like this hit the market. It’s unfortunate that the designer probably lost a battle or two in the process, resulting in a mixed message of design languages. Could it have been the March Marketing battle of 02 or the Stage 4 Showdown with PM? Since I don’t really know how this all went for Kyocera, it could have been the stubborn designer holding on to his or her “design gesture” from the sketch and desperately pushing it through, just to get it to market. If so, bad call.

Check out some nice concept work from KDDI, a Japanese phone manf working with the likes of Naoto and WaterStudio. Penck has a Pebl gesture. Dont know which one came first. Neon is the newest of the concept series. Hexagon is the phone I have shown above.  While I’m not a fan of the design itself, the study is gutsy; it’s bold and attempting to be simple at the same time.

Feature Creep

Does everyone need a camera in phone?

Who would use a voice recorder in their mp3 player?

Do I really need a FM player when i have 30,000 songs my mp3 player?

Do I want to listen to music with my mp3 enabled coffee maker?

I believe “de-featured” products, like the phones from Firefly and Emporia for seniors and kids are great solutions that FOCUS on what people need.

The Swiss army design approach can work for some things, like Swiss army knifes.