Posts tagged “product design”

Steve contributes to Deconstructing Product Design book

Deconstructing Product Design: Exploring the Form, Function, Usability, Sustainability, and Commercial Success of 100 Amazing Products is a recently published book by William Lidwell and Gerry Manacsa. The book is essentially a crowdsourced-and-curated critique of some notable products. I was thrilled to be included among an esteemed set of contributors including friends and peers like Jon Kolko, Dan Saffer, Rob Tannen, and Trevor van Gorp.

The book steps through the 100 products (including such items as Bratz Doll, Kryptonite-4 Bicycle Lock, and Vicks Forehead Thermometer) and describes the product, while including commentary from a number of contributors.

For example, here is the iPhone page, with callouts (each of which are described on a facing page), and commentary along the bottom by me and Rob Tannen.

Here’s a mostly readable version of my commentary

I also comment on other products, including Moneymaker Pump and Pot-in-Pot Cooler.

Check out reviews at Core77 and Designing for humans and buy the book at Amazon.

Duty now for the future

Artpiece made of clocks, Chicago MOMA

This list of 10 workplace skills of the future is going around the various ‘Scapes and ‘Spheres (it came to me on Twitter via Chris23). Without getting into whether the list is entirely correct or comprehensive, I think it’s incredibly thought-provoking.

For anyone involved in designing products–especially work environments and tools–it will be crucial to explore people’s daily lives and see what’s really happening: how these types of shifts are manifesting behaviorally and emotionally, and what new opportunities are being created as a result.

10 Workplace Skills of the Future
(From Bob Johansen’s book, Leaders Make the Future. Originally posted by Tessa Finlev in The Future Now blog.)

Ping Quotient
Excellent responsiveness to other people’s requests for engagement; strong propensity and ability to reach out to others in a network

Seeing a much bigger picture; thinking in terms of higher level systems, bigger networks, longer cycles

Open Authorship
Creating content for public modification; the ability to work with massively multiple contributors

Cooperation Radar
The ability to sense, almost intuitively, who would make the best collaborators on a particular task or mission

Fluency in working and trading simultaneously with different hybrid capitals, e.g., natural, intellectual, social, financial, virtual

The ability to do real-time work in very large groups; a talent for coordinating with many people simultaneously; extreme-scale collaboration

Fearless innovation in rapid, iterative cycles; the ability to lower the costs and increase the speed of failure

Knowing how to be persuasive and tell compelling stories in multiple social media spaces (each space requires a different persuasive strategy and technique)

Signal/Noise Management
Filtering meaningful info, patterns, and commonalities from the massively-multiple streams of data and advice


The ability to prepare for and handle surprising results and complexity that come with coordination, cooperation and collaboration on extreme scales

Lovely Phone; Ugly Software

David Pogue reviews some new phone in Lovely Phone; Ugly Software. I’m mostly interested in the headline, though.

I’m so sick of this as the status quo. Aren’t you?

Award-winning, or attractive industrial design is achievable. Usable, joyous, lovely software is achievable. Why is the combination so damn hard? When will companies figure out how to do better? As advanced as we think we are in these fields, it seems big companies are still launching stuff that wrecks your life while making you look hip. We can blame it on organizational silos, or increasingly complex design problems as screen sizes gets smaller and usage gets more advanced, but I think there’s a cultural problem (of course) in organizations, as they still don’t get it. They aren’t figuring out how to work together and they aren’t setting high enough standards for what’s good enough to launch.

Sure, this is Motorola in this article, but the story seems so familiar, this could be anyone. I don’t propose simple solutions here, but I do feel so very tired of the problem.

New Yorker profiles Roald Dahl

From a lengthy New Yorker profile of Roald Dahl comes this story of a formative exposure to the notion that the products we experience are the result of conscious deliberate decisions by others, and that this is a process one can engage in.

He and the other boys at Repton also enjoyed a curious perk, courtesy of the Cadbury chocolate company. “Every now and again, a plain grey cardboard box was dished out to each boy in our House,” Dahl writes in Boy. Inside were eleven chocolate bars, aspirants to the Cadbury line. Dahl and the other boys got to rate the candy, and they took their task very seriously. (“Too subtle for the common palate” was one of Dahl’s assessments.) He later recalled this as the first time that he thought of chocolate bars as something concocted, the product of a laboratory setting, and the thought stayed with him until he invented his own crazy factory.

Dahl is brilliant at evoking the childhood obsession with candy, which most adults can recall only vaguely. In his books, candy is often a springboard for long riffs on imagined powers and possibilities. Far from being the crude ode to instant gratification that critics like Cameron detect, Dahl’s evocation of candy is an impetus to wonder. When Billy, the boy in The Giraffe, the Pelly, and Me (1985), opens his own candy shop–talk about wish fulfillment!–he orders confections from all over the world. “I can remember especially the Giant Wangdoodles from Australia, every one with a huge ripe red strawberry hidden inside its crispy chocolate crust,” he says. “And The Electric Fizzcocklers that made every hair on your head stand straight up on end. . . . There was a whole lot of splendid stuff from the great Wonka factory itself, for example the famous Willy Wonka Rainbow Drops–suck them and you can spit in seven different colours. And his stickjaw for talkative parents.” The word “confection” has a double meaning in Dahl’s world: candy is a source not only of sweetness but of creativity. On a field trip recently, I sat next to three nine-year-old boys who spent forty-five minutes in a Wonka-inspired reverie, inventing their own candies.


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