High Design, whyDesign: A Few Words on iDesign

If you saw our main page today, you’re probably aware already that we’ve launched iDesign, a salute to innovative iPod and iPhone industrial designs, but you may be wondering “why?” And the very release of such a thing brings up some other issues I wanted to deal with in advance, as we have an entire series of these features planned for the near future.

A Major Difference: iDesign’s subject matter is picked by iLounge editors without any involvement from advertisers or developers, a fact that is critically important in distinguishing this series of articles from similar ones that might appear elsewhere. These are not going to be puff pieces based on pitches from companies desperate to spotlight their products. Like all iLounge editorial content, our iDesign features won’t shy away from pointing out problems with the products we spotlight, but here, the major emphasis will be on the things that make the products great. We won’t pick the products if they aren’t worthy of special attention.

Why? We created iDesign for two reasons. The first was to serve as a creative inspiration to iPod and iPhone accessory developers, the vast majority of whom have become so obsessed with churning out lots of products that they don’t focus on making one or two really great, novel ones. Our offices are now so full of me-too accessories that we wanted to take a step back and figure out which ones really made a difference, and why. We also wanted to show our readers just how amazing some of these products really look when they’re paired up with the right iPods, and in some cases, other accessories. Too often, photos of really great products get lost in our ever-growing pool of accessory previews and reviews, so we figured that it was worth spotlighting them.

Negative Consequences: The point of iDesign is to show how original and beautiful designs can make a positive contribution to the world. Unfortunately, the talent required to create such products is not so widespread that companies will just read the articles, see the pictures, and create great new things; instead, as history has shown, many will look at the examples and just copy them. We can’t prevent that from happening, but some of our first articles will be focusing on products where the cat’s already out of the bag, and clones already exist.

Ultimately, creative energy and fantastic design are the fuels that differentiate iPods, iPhones, and their ecosystems from the thousands of other products out there. We want to celebrate and encourage these elements, rather than wasting time on all of the me-too filler that has been boring us and you to tears lately. Hopefully iDesign represents a step or two in the right direction. We’re really looking forward to the next ones.

  1. In the iPod/iPhone microcosm, there are simply waaaay too many junk accessories and real gems are lost in the sea of me too’s.

    Since I’ve join the iEcosystem, your Buyer’s Guide (BG) has helped navigate through the rough waters to find the right (or at least adequate) accessories for our family of iPods and iPhone. Still, I’ve always felt that BG is an equivalent of Sunday newspaper ads focused on iEcosystem.

    Great designs are few and far between. Not sure one exist for your context today. And great design means different things to different people. Yet we can all agree that Frank Lloyd Wright or Frank Gehry consistently did/do so in architecture. And Pinnanfarina for automobiles, Armani for clothing and so on.

    So if your intention is to find something of equivalence to truly great designs – industrial or artistic – for iPod/iPhone ecosystem, perhaps there will not be too many iDesign articles. On the other hand, if you intend to showcase best of class from design and innovation perspective, without the influence of your advertisers, then why the big deal? Aren’t you already doing that implicitly in your writings and reviews???

    Just my thoughts….

  2. zero2sixty: Obviously, the goal with iDesign is to focus on a handful of truly great products over the course of time. It has a different purpose than our Buyers’ Guides, which exist to help people make buying decisions about products of various types; iDesign isn’t there to help you buy something. It’s solely to look at what makes great designs great.

    You’ll see how the articles vary from topic to topic. The next ones are already planned, and each will offer a different take on good design. We are not elitists in design and don’t believe that the only good products are the ones that few can afford. Rather, we think that good designs are ones that are affordable, practical, and widely appealing. The world doesn’t need $500,000 automobiles as much as it needs truly great $30,000 ones.

    Regarding “without the influence,” the guarantee of editorial independence here is not just implicit, it’s explicit. We have said as much in prior articles and continue to maintain that standard across everything we write. But at a time when companies can unfortunately buy their way to coverage — not here, but elsewhere — it’s important to underscore that pieces like this are based on merit, not pay-for-play agreements.

    The same is true of our Buyers’ Guides. We choose all of the content without regard to who may or may not be advertising. Ads are placed in each Guide after the content’s put together, not before, so if you focus on the ads, you focus on the ads, but the editorial content is entirely independent (and takes a LONG time to put together).

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