>Read it if you've eaten something nasty that needs to come out. ®
WARNING: This was not sarcasm. It was literal.
Apple's Sir Jony Ive has been promoted from design supremo to design chief. 9to5mac reports that Apple CEO Tim Cook has anointed him the company's first ever chief design officer. The outlet claims to have the text of a letter Cook sent to Apple staff in which the CEO says Ive “will remain responsible for all of our design, …
That article was surely worth every penny he was paid for it.
In the Persian influenced Arab empire a visitor to the Kalif might start off with a fifteen minute speech on the wonders and talents of the bloodthirsty thug he was worshipping. Then the thug might have him whipped for not being fulsome enough. It seems Fry wouldn't have been much at risk.
If anyone deserve the acclaim for artiste, he surely does. I don't buy Apple, but I don't hesitate to recommend it and yes, consistent design is a tick in some user's desire. [Me? Job one, after the OS and updates are done Linux, Windows, or whatever, that desktop gets a NeXTStep makeover.
...if you buy into "consistent" design, then Apple's products are a terrible recommendation.
The only "constant" is the quest for making everything thinner, even when not doing so would allow things people actually want... like better battery life on a mobile device.
Or separate, magsafe power supply design on the latest thinner-than-thin-itself netbook meets laptop.
If there is one thing Apple design isn't, it's consistent.
Not as in engineering, hard sums or programming.
But simply how stuff looks, mostly copied from Dieter Rams Braun Era.
So they'd be mad to actually give him a senior job. Common in companies last 100 years to invent a new title for someone long serving.
I wonder why Apple hired Jony Ives rather than Dieter Rams at the time. Maybe Jobs didn't know of him or he turned it down.
> I guess FEA is used on Apple's cases, too. But I have a suspicion JI is not involved in that side of it.
No. Ive isn't programming the FEA directly. But then, he's not much of a CAD jockey in general, preferring working with materials by hand. The standard disclaimer on FEA software is "This software is not intended to replace real physical testing, but only to reduce it". Apple will still build prototypes at all stages of the design process (Ive's studio has a couple of CNC machines at one end of the room) and test them. In any case, you can think of a product designer as a project manager - co-ordinating individuals from a wide range of disciplines.
However, Ive is very interested in what FEA and real testing can tell him about materials and manufacturing processes. This is evident in the variety of manufacturing processes that Apple employ - machining, extrusion, forging, deep drawing, laser cutting... and that's just their aluminium parts.
This isn't unique to Ive. The good product designers have never been the ones who hand a magic-marker pen drawing to an engineer and say "Now - you build this!"
First up, I'm glad you've heard of Dieter Rams. I would encourage you to seek out some interviews with him, though, and perhaps study more about product design - I personally find it a fascinating area because of the wide range of disciplines it incorporates. A good place to start might be the career of another German designer, Hartmut Esslinger, who founded FrogDesign and consulted for Wega, Sony, Apple and NeXT. That will take you into how design featured in Sony's products of the 1990s, with some clear parallels to Apple's subsequent story.
Dieter Rams didn't call himself a 'designer', because he knew a lot of people mistook the term as referring purely to the appearance of an object. Rams prefers a German phrase that translates as 'Form Engineer'.
Good design is time consuming; following Rams' '10 Principles' takes a long time. Analyse the problem, create solutions, build prototypes, test, redesign, repeat many, many times. You have to balance the engineering, the users' needs, the economics, the technology... Good product designers do understand the manufacturing processes that they will choose from.
Side note: It wasn't Steve Jobs that hired Ive. Ive had been working as a consultant for Apple for a couple years, before joining them in 1992 - they tempted him in with a fake tablet computer project. Ive nearly quit before Job's return to Apple. Esslinger suggested to Jobs that Apple had some talented individuals in its design department, that could do good things if given the power to do so.
I think he was more form than UI design, though of course the form of many devices is a part of the user's interaction - i.e, the Big Green Button on photocopiers, the moulded line between the eject button and the disc lid on the original Sony PlayStation, the position of volume buttons on mobile phones.
There is a bit of cross over between Sony and Apple:
- Both companies didn't like focus groups for the same reason that Henry Ford gave: "people would just tell me they wanted a faster horse!". Empirical studies over decades tell us that what people say they want isn't isn't what they will actually buy.
- Portable audio players. Both 'Walkman' and 'iPod' have become near generic, like 'Hoover'.
-Esslinger. Designed for Wega before Sony bought it. Developed Apple's 1980's design language. Sony's Playstation was a deliberate homage to it.
- Propriety interfaces. Buy a Sony TV and the remote control for a Sony DVD player will control it. Great. If you only own Sony kit. Umm.
-Steve Jobs used to just walk in to Sony HQ. When he ended the MacOS clone programme, he was willing to make an exception for Sony VAIO laptops and desktops (designed by the Playstation lead designer). However Sony were too far down the MS Windows path by then. Jobs also suggested to Sony that they stick a GPS receiver in their digital cameras.
- Sony, and later Apple, kit is used in broadcast and video editing.
- Shuttle controls in Sony's video editing kit became the iPod's scroll wheel, via a Bang and Olufsen telephone.
- Sony had all the pieces to create a iTunes online music store and hardware player, and they had done the studies and tests... but they tripped themselves up.
-Digital Cameras. The Apple QuickTake camera.
Aside from the overwhelming biliousness that the Fry "interview" invokes, I was left with a sense of disappointment that it wasn't published in the National Treasure's ™ usual Kleenex of choice, the Grauniad. Whilst the Telegraph's commentards include the occasional Apple zealot they are a pale imitation of those that exist under the CiF line.
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