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Jonathan Ive: 10 key points on Design


The Telegraph interviewed Jonathan Ive (chief designer at Apple for the past 15 years) a few weeks ago. It’s a good interview. There are a few things Ive mentions that are worth noting and worth remembering so we’ve made a selection of quotes and broken them up into 10 key points on Design.


  • We don’t really talk about design, we talk about developing ideas and making products. Because the word Design has lost its meaning.
  • When we make something we want it to speak to a set of values.
  • Our products will never respond to some corporate or competitive agenda.
  • We try to develop products that leave you with the sense that that’s the only possible solution that makes sense.
  • Our products are tools and we don’t want design to get in the way.
  • Our goal is to bring a calm and simplicity to incredibly complex problems in a way that users won’t even realize there was a problem to begin with.
  • The quest for simplicity has to pervade every part of the process. It is fundamental.



  • You demonstrate that you care for the people that you are making the products for when you ‘finish the back of the drawer‘. We have a civic responsibility to do that.
  • Knowing when to call a halt to a project is an important part of the job.
  • Simplicity is not the absence of clutter, that’s a consequence of simplicity.
  • Simplicity is describing the purpose and place of an object and product. Nothing more, nothing less.


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Systems and beauty in design (plus some notes on UX Spain 2012)


Many people have asked for Javier’s presentation on Systems and Beauty (in Spanish only) from last weekend’s UX Spain so we’ve uploaded it to Slideshare, please feel free to download it and share it around or download the file on PDF format.

Los Sistemas y la Belleza (pdf 7 Mb)

Most of our peers have written about last weekend’s hits and misses, Daniel Torres Burriel, Fjord’s Jesús Gorriti and Arquinauta’s Karina Ibarra have pretty good insights on what went on in Salamanca during those two days. Much of the good stuff has already been covered but, from our standpoint, there are just a couple more things we’d like to add to this conversation.

According to official numbers more than 400 people attended. A good sign because it means we’re no longer the same old familiar faces. We never imagined this day would come but…yes, there ARE people out there who have no idea what El Hawaii is, nor care.

What does this mean? It means we’re no longer a familiy-business, it means we can’t hide behind one another, it means our mistakes will no longer be diluted by beer. And this is excellent news because it will make us better professionals. We’ll miss the good old days but it’s time to move on. As Alberto Knapp rightly said, “when you’re comfortable at work, it means you’re dead”.

Unfortunately, we still get bogged down by the same old rhetoric: designers vs developers, user testing vs. no user testing, Madrid vs. the rest of Spain, UX vs design, wireframes vs. no wireframes. The problem is, while we’re discussing these issues (important as they might be) we’re missing out on discussing some pretty important questions, the ones that will actually take us forward.

Are we prepared to craft products for a touch screen world? Do we know enough about industrial design, architecture, product design, universal design principles so we can create stuff that works for interactions that don’t yet exist? Are we prepared to leave the world of menus and submenus and databases to embrace more tangible spaces? (And we’re just beginning to scratch the surface here…)

The things is, while we’re dealing with our identity crises there are people out there doing great things like Paper (to name the first product that comes to mind) and changing the way we interact with things.

There’s the illusion we’re stronger because we get together and discuss things. We’re not. We’re stronger because we do. And we should never forget that. In the end, what we do defines who we are.


The unyielding value of taste


No amount of money, and no small amount of time, can buy taste.

Steve Ballmer via Marco Arment

Taste is like a language: those who know it understand you, those who don’t, never will. Taste is one of those black and white concepts: you either have it or you don’t. No middle grounds. Can you develop it? Yes. (Although aesthetic taste is something you’re born with). Does it make a difference in life? Yes. Always. Can you copy it? No. Never.

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The Rat-Pack of mid-century modern design


I love this photo.

From left to right. George Nelson, Edward Wormley, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, Charles Eames and Jens Risom.

Playboy Magazine July issue, 1961. It couldn’t be anywhere else.

You can read the original article here.

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Screening by Vostok in Madrid of 'Eames: the Architect and the Painter'


Many of you know we worked hard to bring Bill Jersey and Jason Cohn‘s documentary ‘Eames: the Architect and the Painter’ to Madrid. Although it was a private screening for family, friends and clients, we’re proud to say that this was the first time the film was screened in Europe and probably –and I sincerely hope I’m wrong here– the last time it will be screened on the big screen in Madrid.

Lucky for us though, Canal+ Spain will premiere the film sometime in May. Take note of the date because this one’s definitely not worth missing. The amount of archive material these men had access to is astonishing and the way Jason Cohn’s script interweaves private and public aspects of their lives, pretty enlightening.

But, movie-aspects aside, this is a great opportunity to revisit the Eames’ work and, especially, their philosophy. El Pais’ Anatxu Zabalbeascoa did a pretty good job at grasping what this event was all about in her article a few weeks ago: Eames for times of crisis. Charles and Ray taught us that difficult times are a great opportunity to change things: to do more and better.

They injected some of this ‘good design is good business’ mantra in companies like Herman Miller, IBM and Polaroid but they also engrained this in future generations of designers. Like us. Many years after them. This is the main reason why we decided to do this event in the first place and share it with the people we respect. For those of you who came: thank you. This is the first time we do something like this. Hopefully it won’t be the last.

We’d also like to thank the great team behind us in this event: Pelayo and Marta. And Vitra Spain for their generosity.


A road trip through Japan taking great pictures


The first time I saw Robert Frank‘s photos for his project ‘The Americans‘ I got a glimpse of the connection between exhausting road trips and great photographs. Perhaps it has to do with the lack of sleep, the lack of good food, the monotony of endless roads that push your body –and your head– to the limit. After all, extreme fatigue does develop a sense of acute awareness and sensitivity that’s difficult to replicate with non-chemical (and may I say, legal) substances.

Unlike Frank’s compilation, Tina Bagué and Tori Morimoto‘s Japan Photo Project is less about Japanese society and more about the culture and beautiful landscapes of the country, less about capturing instants and more about knowing the right towns. But the veil of fatigueness-channeled perception is there. No question about it.

Plus, the JPP blog is the perfect traveller’s guide. In 365 days they visit all sorts of towns and meet all sorts of people. Next time I’m in the country, I’ll be sure to throw away my Lonely Planet and instead, read their blog carefully and save every single stop in a map.

A compilation of the photographs has recently been published. The book is called, ‘Japan’. Published in collaboration with the Catalan publisher, The Private Space, Japan’s first edition is officially sold out but, after December 8th you’ll be able to order the book here.

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Minube and Filmin featured in RTVE


Only two companies were featured in RTVE‘s (a Spanish national TV channel) coverage of FICOD (Spain’s most acclaimed forum for digital content) last night. We’re proud to say both of them are Vostok’s clients with whom we’ve been working and desigining together for some time now.

Are we bragging? You bet. It’s not every day that two products you did strategy and design for receive this kind of offline attention. We’re thrilled. Kudos to Filmin and Minube :)

You can watch it online here.

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Jean Prouvé and modular design


Jean Prouvé was once quoted saying: never design anything that cannot be made. Part designer, part architect he always conceived himself primarily as a craftsman, a builder. In Norman Foster‘s own words, in Prouvé’s work “technical imagination is placed at the service of function and economy”.

And that’s infinitely apparent when you understand the thought process behind his first attempts at prefabrication. How to produce furnishings and components that were simple to ship and easy to erect? How to create structures that were both solid and adaptable; temporary and long-lasting? Simple: modular design. His structures tended to be light, flexible, and even mobile, combining traditional building materials with aluminum and steel.

At the time, Mr. Prouvé was revolutionizing the concept of construction so he went back to the basics. He kew that if he was to create a new language, he first needed to devise an alphabet and that’s what he did, he created “L’alphabet des structures”. Because once you devise the basic elements of a system, it doesn’t matter what the future holds; you’ll know what to do, how to react.

Most of the problems we face as designers today aren’t new so it’s always refreshing and inspiring to see how others have tackled them before. And then it’s just a matter of learning, adapting and applying.

If you have a chance, Industrial Beauty (though I like the name in Spanish better, Belleza Fabricada), is an exhibition at Ivory Press Madrid of some of Prouvé’s most significant work, including drawings, sketches and furniture. It will be open until November 12th.

For an overview of some of his work, this Flickr compilation is a good start.

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In Japanese style


1980 photograph by Italian photojournalist Mario de Biasi part of the “Changing Japan 1950-1980” exhibition at the JCII Photo Salon in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward. Open until October 30.

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Interview: Khoi Vinh on news design and the future of news


Khoi is former Design Director of, he has a blog called Subtraction and an elegant WordPress theme called Basic Maths. He’s also one of the most outspoken critics of how the news industry is dealing with changing consumption habits and vanishing revenue streams. He’s poignant but respectful, an insider who never quite stopped being an outsider. A designer we respect for upping the ante.

It’s quite discouraging to see so many failed attempts at adapting a product as important to society as newspapers that we felt we needed to ask the guy to go to for this subject to share his thoughts on what has changed, what newspapers are doing to adapt and why their changes are so timid. We encourage you to watch the full-length interview in case you want more information or, like me, are just curious about the man. If not, here’s a good 4min compilation of snippets of the most important things we touched on.

On a side note… One of Vostok‘s dream jobs would be, without a doubt, to design an online newspaper. It would also be one of our worst job nightmares…You have to deal with infinite layers and inevitable complex structures, not to mention the frustration of having to play by the rules when you know the rules are no longer valid. It’s not an easy task. You can read a compilation of what our stance is when it comes to online news design here.

Agree? Not agree? Let us know what you think.

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