One of the top Apple product designers of the past two decades is parting ways with the company, according to a new report that reveals there’s been a big shake-up on Jony Ive’s team.
Christopher Stringer was the lead designer of the original iPhone and was one of the top two or three designers on Apple’s industrial design team. Now he has apparently decided to jettison from the company right before Apple moves into its new spaceship.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
The only thing uber-designer Yves Behar hasn't turned his hand to yet is Apple computers.
The Swiss-born 47-year-old has crafted popular products like the Jambox, the Ouya gaming micro-console, and the XO Laptop, just to name a few. He's been lauded by Time, CNN, and FastCompany and his work, like Jony Ive's, has been featured in many museums, including those in San Francisco and Behar's hometown of Lausanne, Switzerland.
When I brought home a fizzy-water-making SodaStream Source a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised to see, emblazoned on the front of the box I picked up at the local Target (not fancy-pants Habitat), "Designed by Yves Behar."
This weird insertion of industrial design into the most basic of retail spaces got me thinking: what else has Behar designed, and how do they fit into our everyday lives? Click through the images above for the 10 best answers to that very question.
August Smart Lock
As Apple gets into the smart home market, they'll need to take a look at August Smart Lock, which Behar designed to be safe, secure, and social. You can program it on the flay and remotely from your iOS device, letting people in with a one-time pass or on a timed basis. It may not have shipped yet, but boy is it gorgeous and functional.
Yet another market category definitively cornered by Behar and his team - the portable Bluetooth speaker. The Jambox was the first device in this segment with a decent sound and rugged yet stylish design, making all other newcomers to the space take heed. It came out in 2010, but only took a year to become the top-selling digital speaker in the US.
If you've ever seen anyone use a Bluetooth headset (the original Glasshole), you're seeing a product category that Jawbone helped define. Behar is the chief creative officer of the company that brought beautiful design and fashion cache to an essentially commodity product, likes Beats has done for music headphones.
Ok, let's be adults here: most folks masturbate. Behar's team came up with a simple, waterproof, rechargeable and ingeniously designed set of vibrators that -- my women friends assure me -- are the best in class. The series is called "Pleasure to the People," and it's a collaboration between JimmyJane's Ethan Imboden and Yves Behar, leading to the Form 2, 3, and 4, as well as numerous design awards. Design matters, people.
Mint Robot Floor Cleaner
The Roomba took the world by storm, offering a vacuuming robot that would clean your entire house without any input from you. Behar's team at Fuseproject created the Mint, a square lozenge of a hard floor cleaning robot that uses your own wet cloths (like the ones from Swiffer) to do the same thing for your hardwood, tile, or linoleum. iRobot liked it so much, the acquired the company Behar created the Mint for, Evolution Robotics, in 2012.
The Slingbox was a breakthrough device: a box that could capture and then "sling" any media it could connect with to your computer, long before the Apple TV or Roku presence in the media landscape. The current version can stream to any laptop, smartphone or tablet via the internet. The overall design looks like it's made for a Braille-reader, but the logo (which still remains today) perfectly captures the idea of media streaming in one small bit of type.
Ouya Micro Console
The little micro console that could is based on an Android operating system, and costs all of $99. The Ouya took the gaming world by storm when it first arrived on Kickstarter, offering a mobile gaming ecosystem that you could play on your big-screen TV. While indie gamers' ardor may have cooled in the last year or so as the Ouya company struggles to remain relevant, all the hip kids have one of these stylish devices in their homes.
Here's a redesign that only seems obvious after the fact. The frustration of opening a medicine bottle is a common theme, especially for those who suffer from arthritis and other joint and muscle issues. This new Tylenol bottle can be opened with a palm, but still meets child safety requirements in this country. You can even see through the back to know how many you have left without having to shake the bottle when you pick it up.
If you're gonna wear a fitness tracker on your wrist, you want it to look and feel good to wear. Behar's Jawbone created the Up and Up24 to do just that back before "wearables" was even a thing. The Up is designed to track your sleep habits along with your food and calorie usage, and is made to be worn all the time. It's got a rechargable battery that lasts for ten days, so you've always got it with you. It connects with your iPhone and various fitness and productivity apps, making it one of the most robust fitness band ecosystems out there.
Here's the world's first charity laptop, running on Linux and able to be charged with a crank. This makes the XO Laptop perfect for children in developing countries where electricity and computing devices are unheard of and exhorbitantly expensive. During the Give One, Get One campaign in 2006 and 2007, you could buy a laptop for yourself and donate a second one to a developing country for $199. The XO has gone through four iterations as well as a tablet version, and is a triumph of industrial design.
While there are plenty of revelations about how Jony Ive’s aesthetic developed in Leander Kahney’s NYT bestselling biography, Apple fans got a unique glimpse into an informative childhood inspiration for Ive this past week thanks to a television appearance on the Charlie Rose show.
Ive and industrial design pal Marc Newson have been making the media rounds recently to promote a charity auction featuring special items customized by the pair.
However, one item in the auction was neither designed nor modified by the pair: a Star Wars Stormtrooper helmet signed by none other than George Lucas.