The EG Conference | May: 2014
Susan Kare walks us through some key points regarding the design of icons and symbols. Kare is an artist and designer and pioneer of pixel art; she created many of the graphical interface elements for the original Apple Macintosh in the 1980s as a key member of the Mac software design team, and continued to work as Creative Director at NeXT for Steve Jobs.
We are currently knee-deep in a trend of highly contrived (though admittedly, often visually attractive) “infographics”. And then here comes an idea so bold, so clear, so simple, and (dare I say) so obvious, that I feel like this may finally expose the absurdity of those over-designed monstrosities we currently categorize as informational graphic design.
Statement from Todd McLellan:
Things Come Apart is an expansion of the original Disassembly Series. This new set of images explores retro to modern daily items that have, are, or will be in our everyday lives. The book “Things Come Apart” published by Thames & Hudson will be available May.
And from Thames & Hudson:
Things Come Apart: A Teardown Manual for Modern Living
Welcome to Todd McLellan’s unique photographic vision of the material world: fifty design classics—arranged first by size and then by intricacy—are beautifully displayed, piece by piece, exploding in midair and dissected in real-time, frame-by-frame video stills.
This book makes visible the inner workings of some of the world’s most iconic designs. From SLR camera to mantel clock to espresso machine, from iPad to bicycle to grand piano, every single component of each object is revealed. These disassembled objects show that even the most intricate of modern technologies can be broken down and understood, while beautifully illustrating the quality and elegance of older designs. Stunning photography is interspersed with essays by notable figures from the worlds of restoration, DIY, and design innovation who discuss historical examples of teardowns, disassembly, and reverse-engineering.
Each photograph is itself a work of art and offers a reinterpretation of our familiar world. They connect people with the child-like joy of taking something apart to see how it works and will appeal to anyone with a curiosity about the material world.
Necessity may be the mother of invention, but laziness is definitely its father. Case in point, here’s an interesting tidbit of imaging history: the first webcam ever was actually invented by lazy students at Cambridge University who didn’t want to waste a trip to the nearby coffee pot if it was going to be empty when they got there.
This coffee machine that was the inspiration for the world’s first webcam was located in a corridor just outside The Trojan Room in the old computer lab at Cambridge University. In 1991, too many trips to an empty coffee pot led Dr. Quentin Stafford-Fraser and Paul Jardetzky to invent the world’s first webcam to help late night studiers and programmers keep an eye on coffee levels.
Once switched on, the camera would display a 129×129 pixel grayscale picture of the coffee pot at 1 frame per second on the user’s desktop. Ironically, the “webcam” actually predates the “web” by a couple of years, but as soon as the World Wide Web went up, the service was connected to the internet.
The camera was actually switched off in August of 2001, and all that’s left if you try and pull the feed is a link to the last ever picture the webcam took. The coffee machine itself was auctioned off on eBay for over $5,000 to German magazine Der Spiegel, where it was refurbished and put back to work by Krups.
Via: The New York Times:
In the early 1960s, as Lawrence Herbert drove to work in a blue Cadillac with cherry red seats, he mulled over a problem: How to create a “universal language” of color. Herbert, the owner of the Pantone printing company, had just produced a retail display card that helped shoppers choose pantyhose. He had to hand-mix the subtle beiges of each swatch, because it was so difficult to buy the exact shade he wanted from an ink manufacturer. Each company defined colors differently, and when you ordered “wheat” or “taupe” or “cream,” you couldn’t predict what you’d get.
The solution, he realized, was to create a unified color system in which each shade was expressed as a number. “If somebody in New York wanted something printed in Tokyo, they would simply open up the book and say, ‘Give me Pantone 123,’ ” Herbert says; 123 (a daffodil yellow) would look exactly the same the world over….
[click through for full piece at nytimes.com]
Simple doesn’t just sell, it sticks. Simple made hits of the Nest thermostat, Fitbit, and TiVo. Simple brought Apple back from the dead. It’s why you have Netflix. The Fisher Space Pen, the Swiss Army Knife, and the Rolex Oyster Perpetual are some of our most enduring products. All are marvels of simplicity.
Yet while many mechanical marvels of simplicity remain true to their original form, most electronic ones do not.
Travel back in time to use your parents’ first microwave and you’ll likely see a box with three buttons (High, Medium, Low) and a timer dial. By contrast, one of LG’s current models boasts 33 buttons. Do I hit Auto Defrost or Express Defrost? And what the hell is Less/More? None of these make my popcorn pop faster or taste better. And it’s not easier to use. Why do products become more complex as they evolve? ….
And exploring this topic means this is an appropriate time to appreciate the long-time favorite “If Microsoft designed the iPod Package”
….We went to Google looking for the person responsible for the new design direction, but the strange answer we got is that such a person doesn’t exist. Instead, thanks to a vision laid out by a small team of Google designers, each product team is finding its way to a consistent and forward-looking design language thanks to a surprising process. They’re talking to each other….
[click through for full piece]
The wording of their headline does not specifically reinforce or challenge the idea that there actually is a single correct way of accomplishing good design. We’re well aware of how Apple’s design has been led by Jonathan Ive — presenting the world with what appears to be the ideal model of corporate design leadership. Simply put: having one lead voice. But Google is not Apple — and frankly, the entirety of Apple is not as unified as it looks at first glance.
[and while I’m on the topic….] Certainly all of Apple’s products — hardware and physical packaging — have that Apple aesthetic, but have you looked at the icons in your dock lately? Pages, Numbers, iMove, etc… all look like Microsoft products. What would it take to redesign these icons to match the Apple brand? And the Calendar, which instead of having that sleek and clean Apple look, actually opens up to some sort of faux leather-like texture at the top and goes further in this cheesy direction to actually mimic the remnants of slighty torn away pages? Is it the intention to keep these apps looking this way? And if so—why?
OK, I saw this image (below, Calendar App second row center) so here’s the deal—if your Icon is suitable enough to serve as decoration for adorable cupcakes, then it does not have the Apple aesthetic. And if you have the need for adorable cupcakes, you’d be wise to contact my friend Sara.