My work tends toward simplicity to the point that I sometimes I think it marks me out as some kind of design luddite.
As I grow older I’ve become increasingly aware of how difficult it can be to simply stop designing. There is a time when a design – or to be more accurate – a style is done, finished.
Simplicity is the art of removing complexity (my definition but apologies if this has been subconsciously lifted from an official definition from elsewhere). For the user, complexity is a usability killer. For the designer, complexity is a time drain and a creative anathema. The more complex a design is, the less sustainable it becomes and the more work is required at later stages to uphold the extreme level of detail or clutter that has been established.
Simplicity is not minimalism. I see minimalism as an aesthetic, whereas simplicity is an imperative. Very different. And simplicity does not mean “plain” or “bland”. Just simple.
I’m barely touching on this huge subject but I’ll revisit it again and again I have no doubt.
Here’s a good point well made which I think illustrates what I’m getting at: http://www.usabilitypost.com/2010/07/23/a-mild-case-of-borderitis/
Airport architecture makes them enjoyable places to be. I rarely travel by air, but I do know that it’s possible to waste hours at a time in them. It seems that ever since the Pan Am terminal at JFK airport in New York appeared, airport terminal design took a turn for the transcendent. I can’t say that Stansted Airport is up there with the best, but it’s beautiful by night.
It’s been kind of odd watching the 2010 Winter Olympics. I was in Vancouver at the time that the city won the bid, back in 2004. Although on a holiday, my professional interest soon peaked when an emerging story related to the Games’ logo started to emerge.
The Vancouver Olympic Committee (VANOC) launched a competition to design the Games’ logo, open to amateurs and professionals alike. Nothing short of a huge speculative pitch. I documented the story for CSD’s ‘The Designer’ magazine and the piece was kindly reproduced by the GDC on its website (now offline).
The dogged determination shown by the GDC at the time to ensure that professional designers were represented intelligently and fairly was fantastic to witness, and renewed my faith in design associations at a time when the virtual community provided by the web was quickly making them obsolete.
The logo competition controversy aside, there were some neat little design touches that accompanied the Games, right down to the competitor bibs for Games events. CBC’s Olympic website was a concise and comprehensive reference point for events, results and Games news. The winners’ podium likely went unnoticed by most, save for those fortunate enough to step up onto it.
The success of the Games overall was a credit to Vancouver, and the infectious enthusiasm they brought to the party eventually won over even the most cynical of oberservers.
Remember all of those sets in sci-fi movies, anytime from the 60’s to the 90’s, and you thought “There’s no way we’ll ever live/work in buildings like that”…?
Think again. Welcome to the future..
I can’t offer an objective opionion of Apple’s new progeny; I’m an Apple fanboy, a design groupie and a tech non-purist.
The ability of Apple to distill the technological zeitgeist of the near future into exhilarating new product is indesputible. I remember being underwhelmed by the iPod when it arrived. I had barely a handful of mp3 files on my hard drive at the time, and still bought CDs by the dozen. Within 12 months I had an iPod and bought my last CD in 2004.
I haven’t quite succumbed to iPhone fever yet – I’m still a pay-as-you-go luddite when it comes to phones – but the iPad could well find its way into our home. As a device for the casual consumption of digital media it looks perfect to these eyes.
The gamut of reactions to the iPad have been entirely predictable. One reaction in particular I read left me staggered though. Twitter’s Alex Payne is “disturbed” by the iPad, suggesting it is the sunset of the tinkerer: “if I had an iPad rather than a real computer as a kid, I’d never be a programmer today.” Wha? huh?
The opinions and ideas Payne trots out in his blog post are beyond ludicrous. Will Rock Band kill off real guitarists? Did the Walkman kill off DJs? Payne is completely missing the point: the iPad is not a PC replacement. It may be for some; for the low level user who are no sooner going to hustle some C++ than they are to learn karate from scratch, it will fit like a glove.
The iPad is designed for the convenient consumption of digital media, period. The user experience is likely to be, as with most Apple products, superior. The same inquisitive folk who might feel drawn to tinker with PCs will be inspired to look under the hood and create something for that platform. And guess what? For those people, there are SDK’s, PC’s, Mac and all the same tools there always have been.
To suggest that because Apple have added the iPad to their product line, innovation in the development industry has somehow been assassinated is simply inane.
Relax Alex, PCs still exist. All Apple have done is add a new member to their ‘nuclear family’ of products.