Drew Smith: ethnographer, strategist and host of Rising Minds

Warning: Dieter Rams/Apple love-fest starts now

Two obsessions of mine collided today. I learnt that Apple-man Jonathan Ive has written the forward to Dieter Rams latest book As Little Design as Possible.

The year after I started my industrial design degree, I took on a part-time job in Apple’s brow-beaten reseller chain. For years they’d been peddling uninspired, underpowered product.

They then suffered the humiliation of selling jelly beans and clam shells when everything else was black.

Life in Apple-land felt hopeless.

Yet as I fell for German industrial design during the week, it wasn’t long before I was selling it’s American second coming on weekends.

First came the seminal G4 Cube and then the iPod. They were the first expressions of a design aesthetic that has now come to define the brand.

However, the most fascinating thing about these products was not their design, brilliantly engaging as it remains.

Rather, it was the effect the objects had on anyone who came into contact with them. Customers were fascinated, resellers revitalised. We began to tell great stories about the products rather than trying (and failing) to win on specs.

The products delighted us and we wanted to share that with the world.

And here’s a video that explains how that delight happened; 8-odd minutes of Dieter Rams loveliness:


The key take-away for me?

“…learn a little bit that not the spectacular things are the important things. The unspectacular things are the important things”

If Apple has shown us anything over the years, a dogged determination to get the unspectacular right, those head-slapping problems of the modern age, really can underpin success.

It’s something I try to remember every day.

Category: Design Strategy

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© Andrew Philip Artois Smith and DownsideUpDesign, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrew/Drew Smith and DownsideUpDesign with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.