I’ve read a lot of people bashing the design after the reveal. I’m not sure what they’re comparing it to, this or this or even this, but in my book it’s the best looking console thus far. Of course it’s all relative considering the gaming industry consistently produces some of the worst product design imaginable given their budgets and resources. I’ve seen a lot of people online comparing it to an 80’s VCR. I love 80’s VCRs, I love stackable media components, and I’ve always loved Xbox, so I suppose I’m somewhat biased.
So apparently there is this guy in Switzerland who either owns or has access to many of the most iconic product designs from the 60’s and 70’s. He also takes amazing pictures of them, and posts them in high resolution for us to enjoy / print. This man is a hero.
I always wonder though, would having these artifacts make me happy? Would being surrounded by the objects of my desire actually fulfill my need for order and beauty? Or would I obsess; constantly dusting and arranging them symmetrically on walnut desks made by George Nelson? Probably all of the above, but for now one can only dream.
Whenever I get to lusting over design like this I start thinking about the nature of appreciation. What abstract facet of the human condition allows us to seek and covet objects which may not necessarily provide any meaningful function or benefit our daily lives? I can’t tell you how many fellow designer’s homes I have visited to see various defunct or otherwise unused products neatly displayed on shelves, never again to serve their intended purpose. Why do we surround ourselves with these relics? Devices which through some perverse twist of fascination have been stripped of their intrinsic usefulness and rendered as some fetishized monument to our personal design sensibilities, gathering dust on a mantle.
That’s probably reading way to deep into things so I’m going to take the easy answer and say it’s simply the act of art appreciation. There is just something about the fact that these were originally designed as functional objects that throws a wrench into the whole concept of approaching them purely as works of art. At any rate, I want every single thing up there, in my house, now.
Shelby picked out some really nice shots from Das Programm, which features beautiful images of various classic Braun design icons. Can never get enough of the old Braun / Rams stuff. Alex got me Less and More and I’ve been meaning to scan some of the shots in there and blow them up on the Epson 9900. Soon!
I had the pleasure of meeting fellow San Francisco artist Amy Franceschini yesterday. Amy is from the design studio Futurefamers, a group of people who create “platforms for sociability within new media spaces; internet, wireless devices and public space”. I remember being aware of — and influenced by — their work when I was starting out in design but this recent meeting prompted me to take a look at what they’re been up to in the years since.
As you can see, their output doesn’t exactly fall within the scope of your average design studio — although they did design the Twitter logo. This excerpt from Amy’s bio sums up the themes I find most interesting in the work “[she] creates formats for exchange and production that question and challenge the social, cultural and environmental systems that surround her. An overarching theme in her work is a perceived conflict between humans and nature.”
Aesthetically pleasing and challenging at the same time, really great to see people doing work like this.
Some more pics and info at the MoMA site
Some excellent product design going on over at Rich, Brilliant, Willing. Indeed, I’m guessing you need to be all three of those things to own any of their products. I think that’s the last thing I’d spend money on, lighting. Even though it’s probably one of the more important factors in making a room look good and feel comfortable, it’s so hard to justify these $1,000 lamps and fixtures. Forever Ikea.
I’m not following the World Cup (sacrilege, I know!). Partly because I’m American and not much of a sports fan to begin with, and partly because I just can’t seem to muster the strength to pretend I like a sport every four years and then watch a bunch of guys roll around on the pitch holding their knee in agony only to pop up a few moments later and sprint around like a fucking gazelle (seriously, what’s the deal with that? I swear that’s the number one thing holding me back from appreciating football, this theater of feigned injury). I’ve honestly tried to like it, my friend Jorge Calleja took me to a FC Barcelona game while I was there a few summers back. I had a blast and Ronaldhino even scored a goal (which is apparently sort of rare these days). The crowd was amazing; every movement of the ball (even movements that, to my untrained eye, didn’t seem to have any kind of significance) was met with a rush of electricity that filled the entire stadium. Sadly, this feeling has yet to carry over to the TV viewing experience for me.
But I digress, this isn’t about sports, or football, or even pretending your leg has been amputated at the hip when a stiff breeze from the guy running by ruffles your jersey. This is about the fact that despite having watched exactly zero World Cup games, I somehow have an intimate knowledge of the ball used in them. This is because no one will stop talking about it (or those plastic horns for that matter). I found it rather intriguing that it’s being roundly panned by the players — both the winners and the losers. It made me think about all the R&D that must have gone into designing this ball only to have it be put on center stage and incessantly ridiculed. Designing high performance sports equipment has to be the most difficult gig in industrial design. It’s a sort of alchemy of engineering, physics, and craftsmanship that, to fulfill it’s intended purpose, must perform equally well for an extremely diverse range of end users. Just designing a jersey probably involves a few parts rocket science, so imagine designing the central element of play for a game, the results of which can make or break the hopes of entire countries. I don’t envy these designers.
So after hearing about this ball for the better part of a month, my interest was piqued when I came across this video detailing the ball’s construction on Abitare. I’m always a sucker for manufacturing videos and this one is exceptionally well done. I really enjoy the style and tones and it’s always amazing to see these giant, purpose-built machines doing such specific tasks. It always makes me wonder how mechanized manufacturing is ever cost effective.
So I know we have a pretty internationally diverse readership (hence the fact I haven’t used the word soccer once, until now), who are you rooting for? Also be sure to remind me of what a terrible human being I am for not liking soccer (yes, after the disclaimer earlier in this paragraph, via an obscure UN sanction, I am now legally entitled to call it soccer).
Also, the first year I moved to San Francisco some guy with a bus put up a gigantic LED screen (seriously, like stadium sized) in Dolores Park and played the World Cup on it. There were like 30,000 people at the park and it was completely awesome. If that guy comes back this year I will watch soccer.
Mid-Century Modernist posted a couple interviews with Dieter Rams. One is by Gestalten and the other by The Design Museum. It’s great to see this pioneer of product design is still getting the recognition he deserves.
By the way, can you believe this guy is still around? He’s the true definition of a living legend. That’s one of the coolest things about graphic design, our heroes don’t overdose on heroin at 27. They seem to live long, healthy lives, maintaining productivity well into later life. Must be all the sitting, or maybe all the designer reading glasses.
“Weniger, aber besser”