In the last month, we’ve seen an unusual amount of interviews from Jony Ive, Apple’s intensely private and notoriously shy Chief of Design. After the iPhone launch, Ive spoke to USA Today and BusinessWeek with Craig Federighi, Apple’s software chief, and today, Vanity Fair released an interview the designer did along with fellow designer Marc Newsom about their collaboration on a limited edition Leica camera they designed for a (RED) auction. The result is, of course, gorgeous:


  The camera is based on the Leica Digital Rangefinder and was manufactured by that company as a custom item. The overall shape is similar to a conventional camera’s, but the finished object looks altogether different. It is made of brushed aluminum, and the controls are sleek and understated, as on Ive’s products for Apple. It does everything the regular Leica does, with the same lenses and the same functions, but the controls no longer seem intrusive, like silver barnacles on a black metal beast. Instead, every button and every lever is a tiny sensual moment, subsumed into the overall form of the camera.


When they say “limited edition” they mean it. Only one of these cameras was made and will auctioned next month in New York City. I was curious to see what Ive would do with a brief like this. Obviously very different than his work at Apple, this camera never needs to be available to the mass market. Though the duo used that to their advantage with production reportedly taking 85 days the end result looks surprisingly utilitarian. This could easily sit next to a Macbook Air or an iPhone in an Apple store.  Reading the Vanity Fair piece, I realized this is what Ive has been working towards his whole career:


  The democratization of high modern design was a dream that began with the early modernists in Europe nearly a century ago, and for a long time it was mostly an illusion. The Bauhaus designers in Germany in the 1920s, for example, espoused theories about modern design as a popular movement, but they produced mainly expensive, handcrafted objects. The rare Bauhaus designs that have become common, like Marcel Breuer’s Cesca dining chair of cane and tubular steel, are generally compromised versions, cheap copies that are easier to manufacture than the more complex originals. Jonathan Ive’s designs for Apple are different: the mass-market version is the pure version, done without compromise. Ive, who was knighted last year, is one of the first designers to have actually achieved the Bauhaus dream of bringing high-end modern design to almost every level of society.


For the last twenty years he’s worked to combine high design with mass market availability. I’m reminded of the famous Andy Warhol quote:


  What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.


That was the goal of the Bauhaus. And that’s pretty much Apple now, right? Though this camera doesn’t fit that notion—it’s more an art piece anyway—it looks like it could. I know I’d buy one.

In the last month, we’ve seen an unusual amount of interviews from Jony Ive, Apple’s intensely private and notoriously shy Chief of Design. After the iPhone launch, Ive spoke to USA Today and BusinessWeek with Craig Federighi, Apple’s software chief, and today, Vanity Fair released an interview the designer did along with fellow designer Marc Newsom about their collaboration on a limited edition Leica camera they designed for a (RED) auction. The result is, of course, gorgeous:

The camera is based on the Leica Digital Rangefinder and was manufactured by that company as a custom item. The overall shape is similar to a conventional camera’s, but the finished object looks altogether different. It is made of brushed aluminum, and the controls are sleek and understated, as on Ive’s products for Apple. It does everything the regular Leica does, with the same lenses and the same functions, but the controls no longer seem intrusive, like silver barnacles on a black metal beast. Instead, every button and every lever is a tiny sensual moment, subsumed into the overall form of the camera.

When they say “limited edition” they mean it. Only one of these cameras was made and will auctioned next month in New York City. I was curious to see what Ive would do with a brief like this. Obviously very different than his work at Apple, this camera never needs to be available to the mass market. Though the duo used that to their advantage with production reportedly taking 85 days the end result looks surprisingly utilitarian. This could easily sit next to a Macbook Air or an iPhone in an Apple store. Reading the Vanity Fair piece, I realized this is what Ive has been working towards his whole career:

The democratization of high modern design was a dream that began with the early modernists in Europe nearly a century ago, and for a long time it was mostly an illusion. The Bauhaus designers in Germany in the 1920s, for example, espoused theories about modern design as a popular movement, but they produced mainly expensive, handcrafted objects. The rare Bauhaus designs that have become common, like Marcel Breuer’s Cesca dining chair of cane and tubular steel, are generally compromised versions, cheap copies that are easier to manufacture than the more complex originals. Jonathan Ive’s designs for Apple are different: the mass-market version is the pure version, done without compromise. Ive, who was knighted last year, is one of the first designers to have actually achieved the Bauhaus dream of bringing high-end modern design to almost every level of society.

For the last twenty years he’s worked to combine high design with mass market availability. I’m reminded of the famous Andy Warhol quote:

What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

That was the goal of the Bauhaus. And that’s pretty much Apple now, right? Though this camera doesn’t fit that notion—it’s more an art piece anyway—it looks like it could. I know I’d buy one.

The Atlantic has a great history of furniture manufacturer Herman Miller, known for producing the Eames’s work, and how they’ve focused on creating furniture for the education market:

Today—and for the past 40 years—many of the chairs, desks, and tables designed by Herman Miller are released through the company’s education division, which unites research with manufacturing to produce unique products that are meant to enhance the learning experience. This division grew out of Robert Propst’s Herman Miller Research Corporation, which was focused on the way people worked in the office in the early 1970s. “Consulting with behavioral psychologists, architects, mathematicians, and anthropologists, [Probst] quickly discovered the problem was larger and more exciting than the design of furniture,” according to a background document products by Herman Miller for a design show held earlier this year. “Probst’s research led him to the exploration of how students lived and learned on campus.”

I can’t tell you how many hours I sat in chairs like that in high school and college. Looking at those photos got me all nostalgic for those school days.

“I am troubled by the devaluing of the word ‘design’. I find myself now being somewhat embarrassed to be called a designer. In fact I prefer the German term, Gestalt-Ingenieur. Apple and Vitsoe are relatively lone voices treating the discipline of design seriously in all corners of their businesses. They understand that design is not simply an adjective to place in front of a product’s name to somehow artificially enhance its value. Ever fewer people appear to understand that design is a serious profession; and for our future welfare we need more companies to take that profession seriously.”
From Wikipedia:


  The Marshalite is a form of rotary traffic signal that was designed by Charles Marshall in 1936. It consists of two rotors pointing at coloured sections that denoted whether traffic in either direction should proceed, prepare, or stop. Variations exist for pedestrian crossings with additional text instructing crossers to “Walk” or “Don’t Walk”. The last Marshalite to exist before they were removed in the 1970s was along the Nepean Highway, in Victoria, Australia. A similar system was proposed in Germany in the 1950s, and while shown in publications, the signal does not seem to have been put into use.
  With the Marshalite, drivers have a clear indication of when the signals will change though the exact point of change is not clear.


Aesthetically wonderful? Absolutely. Practical? Probably not.

From Wikipedia:

The Marshalite is a form of rotary traffic signal that was designed by Charles Marshall in 1936. It consists of two rotors pointing at coloured sections that denoted whether traffic in either direction should proceed, prepare, or stop. Variations exist for pedestrian crossings with additional text instructing crossers to “Walk” or “Don’t Walk”. The last Marshalite to exist before they were removed in the 1970s was along the Nepean Highway, in Victoria, Australia. A similar system was proposed in Germany in the 1950s, and while shown in publications, the signal does not seem to have been put into use. With the Marshalite, drivers have a clear indication of when the signals will change though the exact point of change is not clear.

Aesthetically wonderful? Absolutely. Practical? Probably not.

I’m completely lusting over the hand built bikes of New York based Bertelli. Each bike is completely made by hand no two are alike: 
Bici is the italian slang for bike/bikes. Every Bertelli bicycle is a  unique design object that you won’t find in any store in New York City. Every part is assembled by hand, finished and fine-tuned by me, Francesco. All my bikes are track bikes and fixed gear only (with the excepton of some coaster-brake builds). I combine brand new parts with “new old stock” and vintage parts found at flea markets, old bikeshops, collectors and from my trustworthy suppliers. The final result is that you won’t find exactly the same combination in any other bicycle out there. And your bicycle will be unique.
And Bertelli is very particular about the types of bikes he builds. There are a few things I’d pay good money for to have custom made for me and a quality bicycle is one of them.

I’m completely lusting over the hand built bikes of New York based Bertelli. Each bike is completely made by hand no two are alike: 

Bici is the italian slang for bike/bikes. Every Bertelli bicycle is a unique design object that you won’t find in any store in New York City. Every part is assembled by hand, finished and fine-tuned by me, Francesco. All my bikes are track bikes and fixed gear only (with the excepton of some coaster-brake builds). I combine brand new parts with “new old stock” and vintage parts found at flea markets, old bikeshops, collectors and from my trustworthy suppliers. The final result is that you won’t find exactly the same combination in any other bicycle out there. And your bicycle will be unique.

And Bertelli is very particular about the types of bikes he builds. There are a few things I’d pay good money for to have custom made for me and a quality bicycle is one of them.

I love how this blog has certain recurring topics and themes. Case in point: Here’s another great video interview with one of my design heroes, Dieter Rams. I especially enjoyed the short discussion about the influence of Rams’s design aesthetic on Apple’s product designs. And I loved his closing remark:

The media has to learn a little bit. It’s not the spectacular things that are the important things. It’s the unspectacular things that are the important things, especially in the future.

(via Kottke)

The Holga D is a digital version of the classic Holga camera:
It’s low-cost construction and simple meniscus plastic lens often crates vignetting, blur, light leaks, and other ‘qualities’ that’s unacceptable in the mainstream photography. But the quality problems have obtained a major cult following among some photographers, and has become really popular in recent years.
Count me in as intrigued. I love my “real” Holga and I’m very interested to see how this digital version performs. At one end, there is something strange about getting low quality film-like images—light leaks and all—from a digital camera, but from what I can see their approach makes sense. The lack of a LCD display on the back conjures up the delayed gratification of film and if the image examples are any indication, the results are very Holga-esque. Pair that with some gorgeous industrial design, this is something I could easily see picking up if the price was reasonable. 

The Holga D is a digital version of the classic Holga camera:

It’s low-cost construction and simple meniscus plastic lens often crates vignetting, blur, light leaks, and other ‘qualities’ that’s unacceptable in the mainstream photography. But the quality problems have obtained a major cult following among some photographers, and has become really popular in recent years.

Count me in as intrigued. I love my “real” Holga and I’m very interested to see how this digital version performs. At one end, there is something strange about getting low quality film-like images—light leaks and all—from a digital camera, but from what I can see their approach makes sense. The lack of a LCD display on the back conjures up the delayed gratification of film and if the image examples are any indication, the results are very Holga-esque. Pair that with some gorgeous industrial design, this is something I could easily see picking up if the price was reasonable. 

“Inspiration is accumulative. Everything can be inspiring. It is how you look at the world. I am inspired by my childhood, my education, by all my teachers I have ever had, by every project I have worked on, by every city I have traveled to, by every book I have read, by every art show I have seen, by every song I have heard, by every smell, every taste, sight, sound, and feeling.”

Karim Rashid is an interesting designer and reading this interview with him on “infosthetics,” the future of design/art/technology/science and individualism is a great display of that. He has some interesting thoughts on how we will interact, both with other people and technology, in the future. The entire piece is worth reading, but I especially enjoyed this little side comment about inspiration.

Also, be sure to look at his tattoos in the bottom photo. A perfect visual display of the quote above and his thoughts on information design.

Just got my email confirmation for my iPhone 4 pre-order and I’m so excited! After much deliberation (too much, probably), I opted for the black 16GB version. I was leaning toward the white just to be different and because it reminded me of a Dieter Rams design but after seeing the white wouldn’t be available until an unknown later date and I still not being fully sure I liked it over the black, I stuck with what I knew and got another black one. You know what they say, “Once you go black…” Ahem. Either way, it’s a super slick design that’s obviously thoughtful and elegant. I’m excited to really examine it and hold it in my hand and try out it’s new features.

Just got my email confirmation for my iPhone 4 pre-order and I’m so excited! After much deliberation (too much, probably), I opted for the black 16GB version. I was leaning toward the white just to be different and because it reminded me of a Dieter Rams design but after seeing the white wouldn’t be available until an unknown later date and I still not being fully sure I liked it over the black, I stuck with what I knew and got another black one. You know what they say, “Once you go black…” Ahem. Either way, it’s a super slick design that’s obviously thoughtful and elegant. I’m excited to really examine it and hold it in my hand and try out it’s new features.

Design Observer has a fantastic piece on House Industries creation of the recently released Eames Modern typeface:
So how does one go about turning a legend into a font? The roundabout way, apparently. “Charles and Ray Eames did not design a typeface,” explains the House Industries catalog. “But they did leave a philosophical template for a font collection worthy of their name.” Roat describes the process of sifting through the Eameses’ legacy as “exhaustive research and interaction with the Eames family” that was well worth the effort, as it “further clarified our mission to honor the Eames aesthetic while maintaining the timeless relevance and functionality that characterized their work.”
The Eames have long been one of my biggest sources of design inspiration as their work seamlessly spread across mediums with ease. Their mid-century modern aesthetic—function over form, simplicity, a focus on materials—is something I’d like to think I try to adhere to.  
Then, a few weeks ago, I attended a lecture by House Industries and I was extremely captivated by their process and approach, something I had previously know little about. As it turns out, they approach type design is a very similar way the Eames approached architecture, furniture design, films, and graphic design. The typeface they created to honor this iconic design couple is the perfect tribute. I’d can easily see myself incorporating this typeface into my work. 

Design Observer has a fantastic piece on House Industries creation of the recently released Eames Modern typeface:

So how does one go about turning a legend into a font? The roundabout way, apparently. “Charles and Ray Eames did not design a typeface,” explains the House Industries catalog. “But they did leave a philosophical template for a font collection worthy of their name.” Roat describes the process of sifting through the Eameses’ legacy as “exhaustive research and interaction with the Eames family” that was well worth the effort, as it “further clarified our mission to honor the Eames aesthetic while maintaining the timeless relevance and functionality that characterized their work.”

The Eames have long been one of my biggest sources of design inspiration as their work seamlessly spread across mediums with ease. Their mid-century modern aesthetic—function over form, simplicity, a focus on materials—is something I’d like to think I try to adhere to.  

Then, a few weeks ago, I attended a lecture by House Industries and I was extremely captivated by their process and approach, something I had previously know little about. As it turns out, they approach type design is a very similar way the Eames approached architecture, furniture design, films, and graphic design. The typeface they created to honor this iconic design couple is the perfect tribute. I’d can easily see myself incorporating this typeface into my work. 

Liz Danzico:

The first paper clip was invented in 1867, and it piggy backed upon the invention of thin-gauge steel wire and the machinery to bend it in mass quantities. But getting the design right was a complicated challenge. Consider: A good clip couldn’t catch or mutilate papers, had to hold lots of papers securely, be thin (so it wouldn’t bulk up files), easily inserted, light weight (requiring little extra postage), cheap (using as little wire as possible), and tough for re-use. [The Gem clip] remains standing because no other solution is nearly as good. (via) See also: History of the Paper Clip, and my favorite, the owl clip]

Liz Danzico:

The first paper clip was invented in 1867, and it piggy backed upon the invention of thin-gauge steel wire and the machinery to bend it in mass quantities. But getting the design right was a complicated challenge. Consider: A good clip couldn’t catch or mutilate papers, had to hold lots of papers securely, be thin (so it wouldn’t bulk up files), easily inserted, light weight (requiring little extra postage), cheap (using as little wire as possible), and tough for re-use. [The Gem clip] remains standing because no other solution is nearly as good. (via) See also: History of the Paper Clip, and my favorite, the owl clip]