I remember the first time I saw an Apple product. I remember it so clearly, because it was the first time I realized that I when I saw this product, I got a very clear sense of the people who designed it and made it.
A big definition of who you are as a designer, it’s the way that you look at the world. I guess it’s one of the sort of curses of what you do. Is that you’re constantly looking at something and thinking why… Why… WHY is it like that? What… Why is like that and not like this? In that sense you are constantly designing.
When we’re designing a product, we have to look to different attributes of the product. Some of those attributes will be the materials that it’s made from and the form of those materials. So for example, the first iMac that we made, the primary component of that was the CRT which was spherical. We would have an entirely different approach to designing something like than the current iMac which is a flat display. Other issues would be just physically how do you connect to the product. So for example, the iPhone everything defers to the display.
A lot of what we seem to be doing (in a product like that) is getting design out of the way. I think when forms develop with that sort of reason, and they’re not just arbitrary shapes, it feels almost inevitable. It feels almost undesigned. It feels almost like of course it’s that way, why wouldn’t it be any other way?
There is a remarkable efficiency and beauty to just how much a single part can do. One of the things we push and push ourselves on is trying to figure out can we do the job of those six parts with just one. The design of this, in many ways, wasn’t the design of a physical thing. It was figuring out process.
It’s really important in a product to have a sense of the hierarchy of what’s important and what’s not important, by removing those things which are all vying for your attention. An indicator has a value when it’s indicating something, but if it’s not indicating something, it shouldn’t be there. It’s one of those funny things. You spend so much time to make it less conspicuous and less obvious.
If you think about it, so many of the products we’re surrounded by, they want you to be aware of how clever the solution was.
When the indicator comes on, I wouldn’t expect anyone to point to that as a feature. But at, on some level I think you’re aware of a calm and considered solution. That therefore speaks about how you’re going to use it, and not the terrible struggles we as designed and engineers had in trying to solve some of the problems.
That’s quite obsessive, isn’t it?