Gallery: 2009’s Best Industrial Design Concepts Feature Ideas for Apple

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Many — if not most — people await the future, some with great anticipation, others with more anxiety. But designers are a breed apart. Designers create the future today.

Yanko Design’s brilliant 2009 design retrospective showcases the web magazine’s passion for modern industrial design and original ideas. The feature highlights a number of talented, undiscovered designers, a few of whom chose Apple products and other computer technology ideas as jumping off points for products we’d not be surprised to see in production one day soon.

Check out our gallery selection of Yanko Design’s best thought provoking tech and transportation ideas for 2009, along with a couple creepy borg-like innovations we’d just as soon see remain on the drawing board.

Who doesn’t expect Apple to announce some sort of new multitouch product sometime in 2010? The mythical ‘TabletMac’ (or whatever it’s going to be called) may or may not look like Tommaso Gecchelin’s MacBook Touch, but his design certainly provides ideas to chew on.

One of Gecchelin’s key design features is flexible OLED technology that the designer reasons could provide the rich color and resolution density needed for a netbook/tablet’s smaller screen — without being a power hog — and would resist damage by its malleable nature. The thinnest OLED screens now are barely 8mm thick and can fold like a piece of paper.

Another key to the flexibility of Gecchelin’s concept is something he calls iSpine. Mimicking the spine of a book, it allows the device to sit in multiple viewing positions. It can go from a normal laptop with viewscreen and touchscreen input board to a large, widescreen canvas for drawing, presentation or movie watching. Gecchelin’s design puts ports for power, the mini display and additional USB on an external “Magic Dock”, keeping the device itself slim and clean of an array of holes and plugs.

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Je Sung Park got his idea for disposable laptops from the wide acceptance today of disposable cameras and cell phones. He goes those things one better, however, by making his paper computers recyclable, with the main casing and hardware elements relying on recycled paper or pulp material packed in layers to make repair, replacement and final recycling easy and economical.

As the Yanko Design reviewer wrote, Park’s idea “could do with some refinement,” but the concept of truly earth-friendly personal computing devices is both intriguing and, possibly, necessary for someone to get working on.

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If simplicity is the essence of great design, it could, in theory, be hard to beat the iShelf. The concept behind Li Jianye’s invention is ‘Coverflow goes manual.’ As far as we can tell, it’s a thin black platform with grooves cut into it so people who actually still play physical CDs on a home stereo can display five discs in the changer a’la iTunes’ coverflow display.

Um, sometimes these designer types swing and miss completely and this, actually, may be one of them. Someone should probably introduce Li Jianye to Apple TV.

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Luke Riggall’s Novanta Workstation, on the other hand, appears to be utilitarian efficiency that could work right now. Yanko Design says the MDF, aluminum and perforated metal SCREAM “only Macs please” — this is definitely a desk we could see loving at CoM HQ.

It features integrated speaker grills and an illuminated tabletop perfect for lightbox work. There’s also an electrical equipment drawer in the rear — to hide messy wires and cables — in addition to built in speakers, a USB and Audio Hub, plus:

# Monitor Stand
# iPod Dock
# Power Strip
# Cable Channelling
# K/B & Mouse
# Drawing Utensil Drawer
# Laptop/A3 Paper Drawer

Want.