Does design really matter so little?

By this point in the film, many of you will be aware of the much talked about price of Macs and how much the design is to blame for this. Many times detractors and benefactors will hide behind the curtain of the relevance or not of this particular issue . But what happens when we see design as something not merely aesthetic, but functional ? Then that’s where the strongest disjunctions about convenience come in.

My colleague Miguel Michan told us last week about Jonathan Ive’s appearance in the documentary Objectified about industrial design, and by watching it you can understand the passion and dedication this man puts into his work at Apple.

Does design really matter so little?
Does design really matter so little?

In this documentary we can also see one of the greatest exponents of industrial design of the last hundred years, Dieter Rams . His designs for the Braun brand are known worldwide, and it is no secret that they have been a real source of inspiration for Jonathan Ive. They both share the same idea, to use creativity as a vehicle towards the functionality of their products .

Listening to Jonathan Ive in that documentary you understand that Apple’s decisions about design lines, changes of materials, variations of concept, are not decisions made overnight . The mere inclusion of Unibody in Apple’s manufacturing guidelines is such a breakthrough in the field of computing that I doubt many of us have really realized what it represents.

Aeronautical engineering manufacturing techniques have begun to be used for such a disparate field as that which can be represented a priori by information technology. The mere fact of taking advantage of what used to be discarded to manufacture different parts of the same computer is something that is amazing because of how obvious it is, and that sadly very few have noticed.

The designers, the real designers, are people who have always amazed me with their way of seeing things. Just going round and round in circles about the same idea to give it different points of focus is something you have to have commendable willpower for. And in every Apple product you see clearly this way of thinking .

Opening a Mac Pro or iMac for something as trivial as changing a hard drive makes you realize that everything is exactly where it should be. Something whose only function is to be a mere container for a computer, which shouldn’t require so much effort in time. You see that it’s thought out to the millimetre and it fits like a real Swiss watch.

And if these design ideas are transferred to the software? Perhaps the most obvious case is on the iPhone OS. Apple has issued a series of mandatory rules when developing software for its platform. Some may see this as tyrannical behaviour on Apple’s part. Others, including myself, see a concordance that is invaluable for the use of the system.

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In a world where lowering costs is the order of the day, even more so with this crisis that plagues us, investment in design may seem futile. At the end of the day, to put it simply, it all comes down to a purely personal decision. For some it is justifiable and for others it is not. But today, Apple’s use of manufacturing methods such as Unibody is a clear advance that many others will soon adopt .

Apple is a company, whether its detractors like it or not, at the forefront of industrial design , and this costs money. This does not mean that they do not make mistakes, because they do. Perhaps two clear examples were the mice in the first iMac or the cracks in the first methacrylate Macbooks.

In my personal opinion, is it justifiable to vary the price of Apple products compared to similar solutions from other companies? When I buy a Mac, I know that among many other things I’m paying for a design. The fact is that I don’t mind paying for it because we are not talking about a merely aesthetic design, but also a clearly functional design .


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