Archive for the ‘product design’ Category

Boys & Toys

EbOY web

In honour of hooking up with EbOY today at the Design & Multimedia Inspiration sesh in Birmingham (courtesy of 4Talent West Midlands) here’s the Web through the eyes of the EbOYz.

I first came across EbOY in the studio of designer Paul Smith in London’s Covent Garden about three years ago. He was a big advocate of their work and incorporated it at that time in a diverse range of clothing and products, which was a big break for them, not least in Japan where their approach is so on the same wavelength.

One thing EbOY and Paul Smith have in common is a propensity to surround themselves with inspirational objects. Paul Smith’s spacious office is punctuated with bric-a-brac, books, stuff he’s picked up abroad, things people have sent him (often just slapping stamps on the thing itself and turning it into a bulky postcard). Likewise EbOY have wicker baskets full of toys and masks and other inspirations tidily stashed in their offices – that’s three separate studios across Berlin making up what is in effect a virtual studio.

Two important things I’ve learned from the two design outfits:

Paul Smith speaks about his wife of long-standing with great love and appreciation. She has clearly been a huge inspiration throughout his career – from the humble shop in Nottingham to a global design powerhouse – and he clearly and warmly acknowledges this in public.

EbOY have made their play their work. Their early designs derive from toys and the kind of drawing many seven year old boys imagine their way into. Those roots are still clearly in evidence. I can’t remember who, some old Chinese fella with a long white beard I think, said: if your work is your passion, then you’ll never work a day in your life – or (much neater) words to that effect.

That’s what I strive for and here’s the latest incarnation: the Big Art Mob. What it has, beside the focus on something I love anyway (public art), is one other key element – a worthwhile public/social purpose (recording, discussing, sharing and enjoying that art). Those two components are in my eyes what separates the boys from the men – and long may I be a boy enjoying toys.

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Ives of March

iPhone

Great article in Ten4 magazine from Channel 4’s 4Talent about Brit product designer Jonathan Ives of Apple fame. Written by Nick Carson from 4Talent West Midlands based at Maverick TV and designed by Jonny Costello of Fluid Design in Brum (you need to see the hard copy mag for Jonny’s response to a ‘challenging’ design task). As I write this on my britewhite new iMac (just across the room from my old Bondi iMac) I send out vibes of love&thanks to Jonathan and put him up there in my Hall of Design Fame with Richard Seymour & Dick Powell, Eric Gill and Abram Games.

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“The design we practice isn’t about self expression. I don’t want to see a designer wagging his tail in my face. I want to see a problem solved, and in a way that acknowledges its context,” states the man behind some of the most understated yet revered designs of the last decade – from iMac to iPod to iPhone, his mass-market consumer products are as sculptural as they are purposeful.

Gentle curves and translucent fruity shades may have made his name, but it’s the technical minutiae that really animate Jonathan Ive. Hours of sweat and head-scratching are channeled into the finest of functional details – innovations that could set the tail of the most reserved designer flapping furiously. But instead they’re carefully smoothed over in soothing white for that cool and effortless je ne sais quoi.

Reaching for one of any number of examples at his fingertips, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Industrial Design turns to the latest iMac. “The stand is a simple piece of aluminium which has been stamped and then rolled,” he begins, allowing himself a chuckle that – refreshingly – his British pronunciation of ‘aluminum’ isn’t met by raised eyebrows. “One of the problems we encountered was that you could adjust it, but the screen would wobble slightly. It was really frustrating.”

“We architected an entire system to try and iron this wobble out.” Ive’s notoriously self-effacing nature allows a flicker of pride to shine through. “We developed a horseshoe foot that went below the stand. In between that and the stand was a cunning material designed to absorb the energy of the wobble.”

“We try to solve very complicated problems without letting people know how complicated the problem was,” he shrugs. “That’s the appropriate thing.” And this deep-rooted – and very British – notion of what is right and proper carries through into his resolute refusal to bask in individual glory. Rather like that horseshoe foot, he sees himself as one of many essential components meshed together beneath a polished and professional exterior.”

Bask in the rest here

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