Product design monotone monotony
In 18 years of product design I have never managed to read the ‘Consumer Electronics (CE) design manual’ page 35 that says that consumer electronics products need to be painted either silver or black or some indeterminate between-tone. Neither evidently did the Samsung designer who came up with the G-series hard drive and frankly, thank heavens for that!
Not only are the products coloured like candy, they have the texture of a table tennis bat and twinkle in the light too! (Apparently to “mimic the way sunlight filters through tree leaves as they sway in the wind”) Putting aside the product’s other qualities for a second though, these bright gems once again raise the question of product decoration that Jonathan Ive of Apple so famously posed with those similarly coloured iMacs from the 90s.
Why should CE products come largely in colourless shades when the rest of our environments are so colourful and lively? We don’t all live in in black clad ‘hyper-cool infinity pool’ LA condo’s after all do we?
The question is a serious one that faces every product designer when it comes to the colour specification of the device they have so lovingly crafted. The easy answer to this is in the safety of lowest common denominators unfortunately – silver or black will be more acceptable on more desks and in more pockets than beige with pink spots. Also since making products every colour of the rainbow and keeping costs low are mutually exclusive, ‘single colour variant’ normally wins. This somewhat depressing reality helps to keep products affordable and supposedly easier to integrate in our surroundings.
There is hope on the horizon however in the ease of doing small batch production these days and of ‘self customisation’ of products that runs from trainers to cars. You can specify the colour and pattern much more easily than before and brands can get this stuff made. Also as consumers get used to this option it is likely to become common in more and more products.
This will be good news for the consumer and I hope Samsung succeed with these products and encourage others to bring a little more colour back into our lives! More candy and less monotone monotony please!
In: Innovation, Product design, Viewpoints · Tags: Colour, Consumer Electronics, Samsung