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When Braun stopped being Braun


These pictures from Faasdant’s set on clear design illustrate the exact moment when Braun stopped being a design driven company and became a marketing driven subsidiary of Procter & Gamble:

It’s easy to spot the switch from honest appearance to styling, the gratuitious use of color and shapes that are not meant to serve function but to convey things different than the product purpose.

Some time ago we made a short video in homage to Dieter Rams and those beautifully designed products:

We also paid homage to Braun in in our recent “To me, design is…” video. How many Braun products can you spot in it?


Think visually, learn visually


“A stop motion film? What do you mean, you don’t know what a stop motion film is?!  Jeez, man, I learned how to do one of those when I was 3!!  What kinda of stone-aged retarded world have you been living in?”

Pas a Pas is an interactive tool that helps children learn the concepts behind geometry, motion and interactivity. We post this video because it’s got ‘danish design’ (in the line of Bang&Olufsen 1970s Beomasters) written all over it. Funny how if you combine high-tech design with wood, the product immediately speaks scandinavian, no?

If you want to understand how the product works watch the whole video but if you just want the meat then forward to 2:25 min. Beware of these children ’cause they’re sure to take over the world!

hat tip: Ricardo Fernández

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At the design exhibit


Last friday all the interaction design students and I attended the “Design, pills Greatest Hits” exhibit at the Círculo de Bellas Artes. I found the curation to be weak. It was a fun evening though.


More on building Vostok's design cinémathèque


Via oscar (an anonymous commentator in our blog) we find an incredible section in MONOmoda,that puts together a great list of design related films. All in all, a great research tool. Although we already knew most of the films’ highlighted (cause many of you directed us to them a few months ago), it’ll be a really helpful post to help us curate our own design cinemathéque. The best way to welcome 2011 :)

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The Glif


Two guys and an awesome idea but no money to make it real: The Glif, for sale an iPhone 4 tripod mount + stand.

Want to help?

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Learn about the past from the future. Or was it the other way around. Nevermind., order by retrofuture researcher Matt Novak goes right to our instafave-ultrafan video playlist. Enjoy episode 0000:

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When hardware rules


What would you say it’s wrong at Nokia?
This is what a former software engineer at Nokia told John Gruber:

Here’s the problem: Hardware Rules at Nokia. The software is written by the software groups inside of Nokia, and it is then given to the hardware group, which gets to decide what software goes on the device, and the environment in which it runs. All schedules are driven by the hardware timelines. It was not uncommon for us to give them code that ran perfectly by their own test, only to have them do things like reduce the available memory for the software to 25% the specified allocation, and then point the finger back at software when things failed in the field.

In addition, I read their “competitive analysis” of the iPhone. It was a short powerpoint deck that proceeded to lay out all of the reasons why Nokia did not have to change what they were doing at all. They even included “developer annoyance at the App Store submission process” as a reason why the iPhone would ultimately fail (this was around the time that the 3GS was released, so they had no excuse).

Bottom Line: Nokia is a hardware company that hates software.


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Design this Day


Here’s a good way to fresh-start from vacation: finding that this little gem arrived home while you were away and awaits for a relaxed reading:

It’s a first edition of Design This Day by Walter Dorwin Teague, one of the first industrial designers and founder of a design firm that’s still out there after 80 years keeping a no-nonsense approach focused on creating quality products.

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Vitsoe and timeless design


Mark Adams, managing director of Vitsoe, states it very clear when talking about their furniture. They make furniture that’s timeless because they don’t believe in recycling, they believe in designing adaptive systems that can be rearranged over time to suit different needs and scenarios.

the concept is to reuse your furniture…we see recycling as a defeat

Modularity and no-aesthetics as design is my big obsession when designing interactive products (mostly websites). It’s not about designing a good website, it’s about designing a system of elements that can be arranged in certain ways and that can fulfill the company needs over time and for different reasons. If done well, when there is a need for some module that’s not designed, its shape, look and behavior comes out of intuition, it’s evident. My goal is to leave something in the hands of my client that will be there in 4 years, probably rearranged, perhaps with more pieces but within the same system.

When I fist read the Ten Principles for Good Design (that was back in 2004) I was shocked. It was like a revelation that made reconsider all I knew about information architecture and HCI. Here are the ones that hit me harder:

4. Good Design helps a product be understood
6. Good Design is honest
7. Good Design is durable
10. Good Design is as little design as possible

In Dieter Rams’ words: less but better.

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The political connotations of human scale in architecture and design


The difference between product design and architecture is in human scale and that has to do with political power.

There is something subduing in the creation of structures we humans inhabit or use in any way, something about those structures condioning our moves and behaviors. Architecture and (even more) urbanism have that powerful quality.

Architects project their structures to influence in the way we feel and behave. They manage flows of people, they regulate our exposition to daylight to condition our feelings or they make us feel free and empowered through space and height. They make structures that manipulate us.

Architecture and urbanism could be the use of power though means of space. That could explain why politicians have always flirted with architecture, and dictators love to have scale models of their dreamt cities.

Designers instead, have never been that interesting for the powerful (with some interesting exceptions). Their work is usually not that influencing. Designers make things that tend to be smaller than humans. Their structures may condition but don’t force us to do anything. It’s not the space which conditions the individual but the individual who manipulates the object.

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