Design of the Decade
The 00s are coming to a close and as most media compile lists of the decade, Design Confidential should weigh in on the product that defined the era. My choice is a fairly obvious one but perhaps my rationale behind it has its own unique take.
I have selected the Apple iPod Touch/iPhone as my Design of the Decade. One could argue that the original iPod should be the winner. However, I believe the iPod was more an incarnation of the Sony Walkman, a device to take your music/videos with you. What was unique about the “touch-based” devices was not the portability but the interface.
We morphed from button pushers to screen touchers and device movers. This organic contact brought a more humanistic approach to how we connect ourselves to these machines. It opened up vast possibilities of fun and function. This piece of glass could transform itself from a tool to a musical instrument in seconds. Scrolling through your vacation photographs was now more like leafing through a paper album than mousing and clicking through computer files. You could even drive a racecar by steering your iPhone.
As for physical design, the iTouch/iPhone used very traditional materials, stainless steel and glass, but with new green twists. The glass is arsenic free and the metal is recyclable. It presented a strong iconic image, one that was copied by other manufacturers.
The product is the torch bearer of the new music media. It is the ultimate port of call of the MP3 cruise. The touch-based interface made the already easy to use iTunes music/video management system even more user-friendly.
However, for me, these products were Design of the Decade because they proved once again that people love good design. Check out anyone listening to music or gaming in public and you’ll notice the distinctive white ear bugs. Look at their hands and that steel enclosure will glint in the light. In a decade when mainstream design continued to go backward in many ways, the Apple iPod Touch and iPhone were shining beacons of modernity, a true reflection of the age we live in.