The job of a designer is to be a psychologist [Podcast interview]

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Belkin's design director Oliver Seil says designers are basically psychologists.
Belkin's design director Oliver Seil says designers are basically psychologists.
Photo: Oliver Seil/Belkin

In the last decade or so, lots of companies have gotten design religion. Design has been brought in-house, where it can shape products from the very get-go. There’s an obvious source for this idea — Apple.

This week on the Kahney’s Korner podcast, I talked to Oliver Seil, senior design director of Belkin International’s Innovation Design Group. We discussed Belkin’s products and design process; the surprising complexity of USB cables (and why they cost so much); and why Apple has had such an enormous influence on design and manufacturing.

You can listen to the podcast or read a full transcript of the interview below. (Or dive into the show notes.)

How industrial design is changing the tech industry [Kahney’s Korner Podcast]

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Belkin's design director Oliver Seil says designers are basically psychologists.
Belkin's design director Oliver Seil says designers are basically psychologists.
Photo: Oliver Seil/Belkin

For many ugly years, manufacturers considered industrial design an afterthought. They would outsource the task to a contractor or neglect it altogether, in an effort to get products out quickly and cheaply.

The result: hideous-looking products that didn’t work well or proved difficult to use.

Nowadays, companies like Apple are changing the game when it comes to incorporating industrial design and user experience into product engineering.

On this episode of Kahney’s Korner, I talk with Oliver Seil, senior design director with Belkin International’s Innovation and Design Group. Seil is Belkin’s Jony Ive, the top designer who overseas the company’s diverse array of products.

Belkin specializes in mobile accessories, from power packs and iPhone cases to WeMo home automation products

Jony Ive’s design book is much more than an ego trip

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Designed by Apple in California book
Apple's Industrial Design team has published a book of its work over two decades: Designed by Apple in California.

Increasingly, some Apple fans think Jony Ive has lost it.

He’s killing ports and headphone jacks left and right. The latest MacBooks value form over function. He’s designing gold watches for the 1 percent.

And now his glossy new photo book, Designed by Apple in California, looks like a $300, linen-bound ego trip.

Designer Marc Newson takes time away from Apple Watch for teapots and toasters

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Industrial designer Marc Newson designed a teapot and toaster for Sunbeam.
Industrial designer Marc Newson designed a teapot and toaster for Sunbeam.
Photo: Marc Newson

While working for Apple alongside good friend Jony Ive on special projects, like the Apple Watch, industrial designer Marc Newson found time to devote his celebrated sensibilities to two very simple objects.

Behold his take on the toaster and the teapot. Simple and clearly fitting for kitchens right now and 100 years from now.

The magic and mystique of Apple’s industrial design team, this week on The CultCast

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The mythical, elusive, rarely-seen-in-the-wild, Apple ID team. Photo: D&AD Awards
The mythical, elusive, rarely-seen-in-the-wild, Apple ID team. Photo: D&AD Awards

Jony Ive and his infamous design team aren’t simply creating the Apple products you use and love, their influence is reshaping Apple itself. On this episode, we look back at Jony’s humble start, and examine how Sir Ive and team became the powerful core of the world’s greatest company. Plus, we bet you just can’t wait to get behind the wheel of your very own Apple-made … minivan? We’ll fill you in on the latest Apple car rumors.

Our thanks to Sanebox.com for supporting this episode. Sanebox’s algorithms learn which emails you want to see and puts the rest into a daily digest you can review and delete with one click. See how accurate it is with a free trial.

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Full show notes ahead!