Mac Air - What part is the IxD?

16 Jan 2008 - 9:59am
6 years ago
5 replies
831 reads
Pankaj Chawla
2008

Hi

A good discussion has been going on the new Mac Air and its design elements
but I want to touch on a slightly different question. What part of the
Mac Air belongs
to IxD and is it all about IxD or there are more important elements to
the design?
To elaborate, the thin form factor holds inside it an equally thin and
a much more
complex printed circuit board that must have been designed by a
hardware designer.
Similarly there is a whole lot of design that would have gone into
creating the super
thin shell that needs to be as sturdy as the thick cousins. The LCD panel needs
to be redesigned and so does the keyboard, the battery pack and even the fans
that will be cooling the processor in such a thin form factor. I have
actually burnt my fingers
a few times after I left my Dell laptop running all night to run some
processor hungry
simulations (Try touching a 60 watt light bulb after 60 seconds of
switching it on; the
pentium processor itself eats about 130 watts and without a well
designed fan it will burn
out in a few minutes even while web browsing).

But the fact is that what strikes first is the Visual form and it
surely will get people to the
Apple Store to check out the Mac Air, but that sure is not the end.
The question I really
want to put out is, whether it is justified to credit the whole making
of Mac Air to a group of
Interaction designers who mostly gave it the Visual form. I know a lot
of you will come back
saying a product is joint effort but the fact is nobody is even
talking what it would have taken
to design whats inside the Mac Air.

Cheers
Pankaj

Comments

16 Jan 2008 - 5:05pm
Jeff Howard
2004

Hi Pankaj,

> The question I really want to put out is, whether it is
> justified to credit the whole making of Mac Air to a
> group of Interaction designers who mostly gave it the
> Visual form.

I don't credit the visual form of the Mac Air to Interaction
Designers. In an interview in the NY Times, Steve Jobs mentions going
through roughly 100 design prototypes and then wondering if they could
fit a computer in there. That was primarily Industrial Design in
collaboration with Engineering.

pankaj wrote:
> What part of the Mac Air belongs to IxD?

To me, the most significant contributions from an Interaction Design
(IxD) point of view are the remote disc feature, the multi-touch
trackpad and (assumably) a works-for-sure power/reset key.

// jeff

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24636

17 Jan 2008 - 12:58am
Pankaj Chawla
2008

On Wed, 16 Jan 2008 14:05:08, Jeff Howard <id at howardesign.com> wrote:
> Hi Pankaj,
>
> > The question I really want to put out is, whether it is
> > justified to credit the whole making of Mac Air to a
> > group of Interaction designers who mostly gave it the
> > Visual form.
>
> I don't credit the visual form of the Mac Air to Interaction
> Designers. In an interview in the NY Times, Steve Jobs mentions going
> through roughly 100 design prototypes and then wondering if they could
> fit a computer in there. That was primarily Industrial Design in
> collaboration with Engineering.
>
> pankaj wrote:
> > What part of the Mac Air belongs to IxD?
>
> To me, the most significant contributions from an Interaction Design
> (IxD) point of view are the remote disc feature, the multi-touch
> trackpad and (assumably) a works-for-sure power/reset key.
>
> // jeff

So whats the dividing line between Industrial Design and Interaction Design.
I would tend to think Industrial Design is about hardware and Interaction
design is about software but I am not sure if it will survive a critical debate.
On slightly different lines, Industrial Designers do the form factor
and Interaction Designers do how that form interacts with the user but
then again the lines are
so blurred because you cannot do one in isolation from another - I mean not
even sitting at two different desks involving two differnt people. I
mean think about
an Industrial Designer who designs an electrial switch just for the form factor
without the knowledge of how the user is gonna use it , is it even
possible in a real scenario, and if he indeed knows how the user is
gonna use it doesnt he become an Interaction Designer as per the
definition :-). So where is the line?

Cheers
Pankaj

17 Jan 2008 - 4:42pm
Matt Nish-Lapidus
2007

that's a great question.... it's say any Industrial Designer that's
really passionate and good at their job would be part Interaction
Designer, or at least Interaction Sympathetic.

Which begs another question:

Is any designer (visual, industrial, etc) who is passionate and
talented part Interaction Designer? Is it possible to design and
aspect of anything without thinking about the interaction and the
user? (i'm not claiming to have the answer :))

> So whats the dividing line between Industrial Design and Interaction Design.
> I would tend to think Industrial Design is about hardware and Interaction
> design is about software but I am not sure if it will survive a critical debate.
> On slightly different lines, Industrial Designers do the form factor
> and Interaction Designers do how that form interacts with the user but
> then again the lines are
> so blurred because you cannot do one in isolation from another - I mean not
> even sitting at two different desks involving two differnt people. I
> mean think about
> an Industrial Designer who designs an electrial switch just for the form factor
> without the knowledge of how the user is gonna use it , is it even
> possible in a real scenario, and if he indeed knows how the user is
> gonna use it doesnt he become an Interaction Designer as per the
> definition :-). So where is the line?
>
> Cheers
> Pankaj

--
Matt Nish-Lapidus
work: matt at bibliocommons.com / www.bibliocommons.com
--
personal: mattnl at gmail.com / www.nishlapidus.com

17 Jan 2008 - 5:00pm
Nicholas Iozzo
2007

Not an answer, but in insight to add to the conversation.

Industrial Designers came about as a result of the Industrial Revolution. Using an industrial designer was one way to gain a competitive advantage. Interaction designer is a result of the information revolution. We are used as a means for an information company to gain a competitive advantage.

Things get messy when where it converges, but it may be helpful in this discussion to begin to look at the role in the business that the ID plays vs the IxD.

Nick Iozzo
Principal User Experience Architect

tandemseven

847.452.7442 mobile

niozzo at tandemseven.com
http://www.tandemseven.com/

17 Jan 2008 - 5:31pm
Nasir Barday
2006

There's the craft, and the person who practices it as their primary focus.

Check out the definition at http://ixda.org/about_interaction.php
It says an Interaction Designer's "primary focus is on defining
interactivity."

If a Visual or Industrial Designer happens to define the IxD for a product,
they don't become Interaction Designers, because their primary focus is on
visual aesthetics and form. However, whenever someone defines the
interactivity of a product, they are practicing Interaction Design. For
example, if you as an Interaction Designer end up defining the color
pallette for a product, you are practicing Graphic Design, but you are still
an Interaction Designer.

Any designer tasked with creating a successful product will inevitably find
themselves doing a little of the others' work, or at least taking their
sensibilities into account. It's part of working collaboratively. But at the
end of the day, a designer is defined by his/her primary focus.

Make sense? Or is that even more confusing?

- Nasir

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