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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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TechnologyReview has an interesting article looking into Apple's design process with a focus on Steve Jobs who is said to have established the company's focus on industrial design.

The article interviews Mark Rolston, senior vice president of creative at Frog Design, who has worked with Apple as a design partner.

"Jobs wanted to elevate Apple by using design." Jobs, he says, not only cared personally about design but saw that it could be a way to differentiate his company's products from the PCs of the day, which often looked little evolved from hobbyist boxes.

Unlike design work for a company such as Packard Bell where the casedesign comes together at the last moment, Apple has a significant interest in product design throughout the process. Apple is said to take "an amazing interest in material selection and how things are manufactured" to the point where they are constantly looking for new design processes and willing to retool a factory to accomplish their goals.

Brunner estimates that today Apple spends 15 to 20 percent of its industrial-design time on concept--far more than most other computer companies--and the rest on implementation

Apple also keeps design teams small to try to minimize feature creep and maintain a minimalist design.

"They're a small team that takes a very, very hands-on approach," adds Rolston. "We do a lot of similar products for other companies--say, Sony. But the process of approval, and collaboration generally--for everything from shape to engineering--involves tons of people, taking up to 50 percent of the time, watering it down." What makes Apple Apple and not Sony, says Rolston, is clarity of voice and vision.
 

iMikeT

macrumors 68020
Jul 8, 2006
2,304
1
California
Interesting read.

I'm one for small teams. I usually find it chaotic when working with a large group of people.
 

3282872

macrumors 6502a
Dec 11, 2006
821
0
Jonathan Ive is an amazing Industrial Designer whom in my mind deserves a lot of the credit for putting Apple back on the map. Ives' design for the iMac and then iPod set the bar for technological computer innovations, blending flawless minimalist design with superb ergonomics and cutting edge technology.

http://www.designmuseum.org/design/jonathan-ive
 

oscuh

macrumors 6502
Apr 27, 2007
314
0
Michigan
Cost of Design

As I've repeatedly heard from designers in the auto industry, design is cheap. When buildding a car, you have to bend the sheetmetal no matter what, so you might as well make it look good. Granted, there is cost involved in having ateam of designers, but when you sell millions of, say, iPods, the design cost per piece is insignificant.

Jobs, and thusly Apple as a whole recognizes people want stuff to LOOK good, not just function well. Seems as though most PC manufacturers have repeatdely missed that concept. Oh, and before someone brings up Sony laptops, how hard is it to make a laptop look good when you're ripping off Apple?
 

Silencio

macrumors 68030
Jul 18, 2002
2,680
543
NYC
I really wish Graphis would come out with a revised edition of AppleDesign: The Work of the Apple Industrial Design Group. They could clean up the unfortunate typos and add Apple's prototypes and final designs from 1998 onward (the book cuts out around 1997, when Jonathan Ive had just taken over as head of ID from Bob Brunner. Then again, I wonder if Steve Jobs would give the authors the same kind of access to the ID group that they had back in 1996-1997.
 

BornAgainMac

macrumors 604
Feb 4, 2004
6,883
4,324
Florida Resident
It has been a long time since the Powerbook/Macbook Pro was designed. They do get a lot of years out of each product design. Not complaining but that is how they can spend that kind of money and not be throwing it away.
 

Doctor Q

Administrator
Staff member
Apple's software, and the Apple Stores, are carefully designed too. Quite a bit of collaborative work went into those famous staircases in the flagship stores.

Apple has always been willing to experiment and innovate. Some products (fruit-flavored iMacs) have had more success than others (the Power Mac G4 Cube), but Apple keeps those new ideas flowing!
 

jwa276

macrumors regular
Aug 7, 2005
119
0
Los Angeles, CA
Interesting read.

I'm one for small teams. I usually find it chaotic when working with a large group of people.

totally agreed.... :)
 

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Eidorian

macrumors Penryn
Mar 23, 2005
29,125
317
Indianapolis
Goodie, Packard Bell case designs and hardware.

Anyone else remember the frying soundcard/modems in tiny cases with only 3 expansion slots?
 

QuarterSwede

macrumors G3
Oct 1, 2005
9,575
1,673
Colorado Springs, CO
Oh, and before someone brings up Sony laptops, how hard is it to make a laptop look good when you're ripping off Apple?
Sony collaborates with the same design group as Apple so it's not hard to make a comparison. It just shows that less people make a better design than a group with 50+ trying to get all their views in.
 

iGav

macrumors G3
Mar 9, 2002
9,025
1
I really wish Graphis would come out with a revised edition of AppleDesign: The Work of the Apple Industrial Design Group.

Me too, though personally I'd like to see a more indepth account of the creative process, rather than the somewhat superficial glamfest that the previous book was.
 

MichaelThomas

macrumors member
Feb 3, 2007
98
0
Jonathan Ive is an amazing Industrial Designer whom in my mind deserves a lot of the credit for putting Apple back on the map. Ives' design for the iMac and then iPod set the bar for technological computer innovations, blending flawless minimalist design with superb ergonomics and cutting edge technology.

http://www.designmuseum.org/design/jonathan-ive

Jonathan Ive went to my uni and one of my design Lecturers studied with him :) although the uni was renamed abit back. He came in early 2006 I believe to give a presentation.
 

Lepton

macrumors 6502a
Apr 13, 2002
849
288
Cold Spring Harbor, NY
Backwards works

Apple uses a process that other, stupider companies would call backwards. In case design, and in electronic and software design. Instead of saying what can we make a computer do? and following the usual steps "1) what circuits can we make to implement that; 2) what software can we make that will control that; 3)what will the user interface be" they say "1) what will the user interface be; 2) what software will implement that; 3) what circuits will accomplish that". It works.
 

wildmac

macrumors 65816
Jun 13, 2003
1,167
1
yeah, yeah, yeah...

everyone kneel down and kiss Job's and I'ves [censored], so they will get off their [censored] and design us some new computers, instead of consumer devices...

how great is this design process when the whole company shuts down to produce that #&$P(#*&$% iPhone?..
 

jwa276

macrumors regular
Aug 7, 2005
119
0
Los Angeles, CA
everyone kneel down and kiss Job's and I'ves [censored], so they will get off their [censored] and design us some new computers, instead of consumer devices...

how great is this design process when the whole company shuts down to produce that #&$P(#*&$% iPhone?..

What the heck is wrong with the current design? :rolleyes:

It's almost becoming cliche with how many people are dissing the iPhone. So sick of seeing this response to the iPhone. It's amazing how many people out there have completely closed minds...
 

0098386

Suspended
Jan 18, 2005
21,574
2,908
My mind is closed because it lacks a 3G network and replaceable battery :p and I think they are very good reasons considering the price of rivals with 3G and potentially short battery life (who knows?).

I've had my iMac since September and I keep looking at it and being impressed. They fit a whole friggin computer behind an LCD monitor and it's quieter than my fan-less external HDD! They're good designers and I'm constantly impressed. I still say the 12" PowerBook is their most impressive piece of equipment.
 

zac4mac

macrumors 6502
Jun 18, 2002
306
2
near Boulder, CO. USA
I was impressed that the author could pump a 5 page article out without ever getting an interview with a member of a design team.

At the end of page four - ""The hardest part of design, especially consumer electronics," says Norman, "is keeping features out." Simplicity, he says, is in itself a product differentiator, and pursuing it can lead to innovation."

Immediately thought about the keynote, years back, when SJ waxed on about the new stuff he was proud of, but he was MORE PROUD of the things they DIDN'T ship.

BTW - MIT's Tech Review is one of my favorite websites, always great stuff...
 

guzhogi

macrumors 68040
Aug 31, 2003
3,395
1,390
Wherever my feet take me…
I love APple design. My only gripe is to be able to run Mac OS X (easily), you need an Apple built computer. I'd love to build my own computer w/ OS X on it, but I don't have the hacker skills to modify OS X to run on generic components.
 

kingtj

macrumors 68030
Oct 23, 2003
2,606
747
Brunswick, MD
re: your "gripe"

This complaint is heard over and over... and I still don't quite get it. I mean, all it really says is "Gee... I want all the benefits of a company's product without actually buying the whole thing from them like I'm supposed to do!"

News flash: Attempts to "have your cake and eat it too" usually don't work out very well.

Even if you do know how to modify OS X to work on generic, non-Apple hardware, you're violating the license agreement for starters. Second, you're running an unsupported configuration. What's the point in switching to OS X as your main computer operating system if it causes you more hassle and trouble keeping it working right (downloaded OS updates and patches keep breaking it, etc.) than it's worth?

Finally, I thought this whole message thread was about *design*? Putting OS X on generic PC hardware means you're running an elegant OS on dull, boring equipment. That's sort of like putting Z-rated performance tires on a Geo Metro or something....


I love APple design. My only gripe is to be able to run Mac OS X (easily), you need an Apple built computer. I'd love to build my own computer w/ OS X on it, but I don't have the hacker skills to modify OS X to run on generic components.
 
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