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Dieter Rams On Good Design As A Key Business Advantage

Dieter Rams On Good Design As A Key Business Advantage
Dieter Rams is best-known for his work at Braun--where he revolutionized the design of electronics--and his indelible influence on Apple’s Jony Ive. But he has had a decisive hand in another, much smaller company: Vitsœ, a British manufacturer that has been producing Rams’s modular shelving system for 50 years. To mark his 80th birthday, the German master has allowed Vitsœ to release the transcript of the speech he delivered in New York in 1976, in which he articulates his ethos of user-centered design and some of his famous 10 commandments. In 2012, they feel as if they were written yesterday. Here’s the speech in its entirety: Ladies and gentlemen, design is a popular subject today. The introduction of good design is needed for a company to be successful. Unwavering emphasis on functionality The ideas behind my work as a designer have to match with a company’s objectives. In 1957 I began to develop a storage system that formed the basis of the company Vitsœ, which was founded in 1959.

Infographic: North Carolina’s Gay Marriage Ban Seems Downright Predictable At a time when many U.S. states have legalized gay marriage, North Carolina just banned it. (Now technically, gay marriage had never been acknowledged by the state, so for all intents and purposes, nothing changed. And maybe that’s why the move feels like such blatant bigotry.) But while many of us have responded in collective shock, in light of The Guardian’s extensive gay rights infographic, North Carolina’s actions feel downright predictable. The Guardian breaks down specific gay rights radially by each state. What you realize quite quickly is, there sure aren’t a lot of washed-out colors in the grid. North Carolina is Wonder Bread. Now, what’s a bit deflating--and what the graphic may convey best--is that there are very few true battleground states on this map, with a mixture of laws that might soon go either way (New Mexico, Delaware, and Wisconsin are pretty much it). Click here to see the interactive version.

(Slide 1) | SoundCloud's Founder Creates An Album From Church Noises Eric Wahlforss was living in Stockholm in 2007, making music and art, when he became frustrated with the lack of music sharing and collaboration tools online. Working with a friend, he decided to build his own alternative to the prevalent platforms of the day--remember MySpace Music or Muxtape?--and SoundCloud was born. Less than two years later, the company had become a model for scalable startups, and Wahlforss and his partner Alex Ljung had raised 2.5 million euros in Series A funding. But Wahlforss continued to make his own music, working under the nom de electronic Forss. Last week at legendary Berlin club Berghain, Forss debuted Ecclesia, his first album in almost a decade. Wahlforss, who grew up watching his mother sing in church choirs, calls Ecclesia an attempt to “recreate the experience of church through electronic music.” The album sounded and felt spatial, so Walhforss decided to follow his instincts and explore the idea of adding a visual element to the music.

(Slide 1) | Watches Inspired By The Glamour Of Classic Cars Super-syncing smart watches are so hot right now, but Bradley Price is banking on the appeal of an entirely different kind of timepiece. The industrial designer (and avid auto enthusiast) launched Autodromo last November, and the company’s growing collection of driving watches is meant to evoke cloudless days hugging curves on Italian roadways with the wind blowing in your hair. No, they won’t remind you to pick up milk at the grocery store--but that’s also kind of the point. “They’re emotional touchstones that remind you of driving, even when you are doing something mundane, like sitting in a meeting,” Price tells Co.Design. Price, who has previously worked on the award-winning HomeHero Fire Extinguisher and Skiff Reader, named the latest series Vallelunga after a particularly tough road circuit in Italy, and actually creating the chronographs came along with its own set of challenges. Not quite sure if the look will suit?

Kickstarter Rescues Startups That VCs Won't Touch, But Here's What's Missing It may seem like we have entered a golden era of product design, in which the world’s most valuable company has built its entire business on a dozen consumer products while heightening our appreciation of the subtleties of industrial design immeasurably. So why do I get a pervasive feeling of doom and gloom when I hang out with my product design pals? Maybe its because all of the action has moved to software and apps. There is a real startup frenzy out there with designers playing a meaningful role this time around. Yet it is still damn hard to get a VC to go along with any startup involving hardware unless you have already locked in distribution with Best Buy or Walmart. When will hardware hit the masses, with MakerBots and 3-D printers on our desktops? The Good 1. Product design is governed by the laws of supply and demand. 2. Now, consumers can look at one image of the Nest thermometer or the Fitbit and fill in all the blanks (while rushing to pre-order). 3. The Bad 4. 5. 1. 2. 3.

Windows 8 Schools Google Chrome In Building A Great User Experience "What we are trying to do is make an operating system and a computer more like a web service." That’s the vision Caesar Sengupta, product strategy lead for Google Chrome OS, laid out for me last year, as the company was gearing up to launch its own cloud-based operating system to compete with Microsoft and Apple. It was a big bet at the time, and one the search giant is still banking on: that consumers want the desktop to feel more like the web. But lackluster sales signal that perhaps Google is taking the wrong approach, or at least that it’s too soon for such a radical change. That might sound like a subtle distinction but the user experience is night and day. Microsoft, on the other hand, aims to press the power of the web into its desktop experience. Or, to crystallize the two company approaches in a different way, just look at Google Docs and Microsoft Office. To be fair, Chrome OS does offer some decent and real web apps. Thankfully Microsoft pursued a different approach.

Vimeo Co-founder Starts, An Online, Social Scrapbook For Kids Used to be, if your kid crayoned a portrait of the family dog, you slapped it on the refrigerator for all to see (“all” being, well, the rest of the household). But such small-time exhibition space doesn’t rate anymore, says Vimeo cofounder Zach Klein: Today, children live effortlessly on the world wide web. So too should their creative output. Thus was born, a digital scrapbook-cum-social network for kids. How it works: A child makes something, captures it using the app on his parents’ phone (or digital camera), then adds it to a virtual portfolio. “What’s remarkable is that kids are aware of the possibilities when they share something on the web,” Klein tells Co.Design. And it isn’t just for the good of young minds everywhere; this is a business. Klein runs the site alongside Isaiah Saxon, Daren Rabinovitch, and Andrew Sliwinski--a bunch of self-described “makers and doers”--from a San Francisco storefront (complete with a paw print on the door).

What OCD Looks Like: Micro-Collages Made From Thousands Of Paper Bits Keun Young Park's finely textured collages approach the veracity of photographs. As they should, since that’s exactly what they were before the artist saturated them in color and ripped them into thousands of pieces, only to painstakingly reconstitute them into quiet images of faces, draped arms, and cupped hands. According to the artist’s gallery, Accola Griefen, Park shows the body in transformation, suspended in between disintegration and reassembly, caught between chaos and order. The thin, veinlike gaps between the bits of paper create the effect of digital pixilation, while their irregular shapes attest to their handmade quality. “I believe that everything is constantly changing, either being generated or destroyed,” writes the South Korean–born, New Jersey–based artist. [Photos by Joon Hyun Hwang]

(Slide 1) | An LED Lamp That Pops Up From A Single Circuit Board A few years ago, when LEDs first became a viable lighting element, designers rushed to cram the revolutionary technology into traditional lamps with a science-fiction gloss. Since then, designers have grown to appreciate the LED, not for what it’s not (an incandescent bulb) but for what it is: a tiny light source that opens up the possibility of new and entirely unique forms. In a dramatic leap forward, Francisco Gomez Paz has, in effect, liberated LEDs from the lamp by inserting them into a single printed electronic circuit board. At first blush, the Milan-based designer’s creation is deceptively simple: a thin, flat piece of folded metal. Perfecting the design entailed three years of research, hundreds of prototypes, and the use of mathematical algorithms to figure out how to cut a piece of aluminum into perfectly proportioned slices. Nothing is available through Luceplan.

Former D&D Gaming Guru Ditches Dice, And Creates Magic Wand With Bluetooth We’ve all heard the famed Arthur C. Clarke (adapted) quote: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." The phonograph must have felt like this back when people heard recordings for the first time, just like the first gen iPhone could quickly draw a crowd through it’s unbelievable touchscreen. But now, a group called MoveableCode, creatively helmed by Kevin Mowrer, the former worldwide head of R&D for Hasbro (including products like Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons), is trying to literally bring magic to technology. Their new Kickstarter project is called the Incantor. “The premise of Incantor is magic made real. “Incantor is designed to be an immersive and engaging fantasy. Napp is right. Forget Incantor’s uber geeky LARPing roots for a moment, and disregard that you’ve never shouted “expelliarmus!” As of right now, the Incantor has only raised about 6% of its $100,000 goal on Kickstarter. [Image: David Brimm/Shutterstock]

Here's Some Finger Paintings Made By An Adult Judith Braun wants to make sure we convey that she is an artist, “not a designer or muralist.” It’s an easy mistake to make. Braun, a former contestant on Bravo’s unexceptional reality TV show Work of Art: The Next Great Artist, uses charcoal to paint idyllic landscapes and lively, abstract patterns directly onto walls. From a distance, they look like expensive wallpaper in some Architectural Digest spread. Up close, you realize they’re much more childlike: Braun’s expressive brushstrokes are not the product of paintbrushes or even a few deft clicks of a mouse; they come straight from her fingers. Braun calls her paintings Fingerings (yes, really), and they range from big (8 feet by 8 feet) to huge (one for the Chrysler Museum of Art was a whopping 12 feet by 48 feet). What makes this capital-A art and not just design or mural art is all in the process, Braun says. Each painting takes just two to five days to execute--she’s a fast fingerer--but requires many months of advance planning.

An Insider's View On Instagram's True Value To Facebook "I was always trying to convince [Instagram CEO] Kevin Systrom to partner with us--we wanted to be the print button on Instagram pretty badly," says Adrian Salamunovic, cofounder of CanvasPop, the service that turns digital photos from sites like Facebook and Instagram into physical prints. "We really harassed him, the poor guy. But he was always very cool about it--always supportive. For critics of Instagram’s $1 billion valuation, Salamunovic’s experience with Systrom gives fascinating insight into why Facebook considers the startup so valuable. Thanks for making this even more creepy, Instagram! Revenue, as some have argued, has the potential to deflate a startup’s valuation. As Salamunovic shows, Systrom had myriad opportunities to monetize. Systrom was careful to avoid product friction--he was even hesitant to allow photo imports from third parties like Hipstamatic. Entrepreneurs often preach that "the user is king." Even dogs love Instagram!

Researchers Glean Deep UI Lessons From A Haptic Steering Wheel We’re not supposed to text while driving. That makes sense--it diverts your eyes and mental attention elsewhere. But what about your average turn-by-turn GPS screen? It’s sort of the same idea, no? Professor SeungJun Kim from Carnegie Mellon’s Human Computer Interaction Institute is playing with new ideas to improve the driving performance of the elderly. (The wheel is of particular note: It was built in a partnership of AT&T. I’ve had a chance to read through the paper, and the findings are fascinating. What he found can probably be applied to products and UIs of all types: 1. Plus, this gem from the article is particularly fun: 71% of elder drivers thought the auditory modality was the most useful and 59% thought the visual modality was the most annoying. Kim’s ultimate finding shows that we shouldn’t design in-car navigation the same way for youth and the elderly. It would be interesting if Kim ran this same study 30 years from now. [Image: nito/Shutterstock] [Hat tip: Core77]

MIT Creates Amazing UI From Levitating Orbs Anyone else see The Avengers? Just like in Iron Man 1 and 2, Tony Stark has the coolest interactive 3-D displays. He can pull a digital wire frame out of a set of blueprints or wrap an exoskeleton around his arm. Jinha Lee, from the Tangible Media Group of the MIT Media Lab, in collaboration with Rehmi Post and Hiroshi Ishii, has been playing with the idea of manipulating real floating objects in 3-D space to create a truly tactile user interface. It’s essentially a small field in which gravity doesn’t overcome an object. “There is something fundamental behind motivations to liberate physical matter from gravity and enable control. Interviewing Lee, I realized he’s one-part scientist, one-part philosopher. Whereas we are captivated by this empty pocket of air, Lee has hidden the real magic just above where there’s a 3-D actuator housing an electromagnet. It looks like magic, but it’s largely a mechanical process, powered by a robot in a box holding one of the world’s smartest magnets.