On Design Appreciation & Apple

Farhad Manjoo, writing for Slate, has this to say about design, in particular that of the iPhone 5:

With the iPhone, Apple is building products at a level of quality that may be unprecedented in the history of mass manufacturing. But the only way to know what that means for you, a user of the phone, is to pick it up and feel it, because objectively it does not sound like a big deal. If I tell you the greatest thing about the iPhone 5 is how it “feels,” you’ll accuse me of being a superficial aesthete who cares more for form than function. You don’t care how a phone was built or how it looks; you just want it to work. But I think that argument misses something important about what it means for a phone to “work well”: When you’re holding a device all the time, how it feels affects its functionality. Or, as Steve Jobs might say, how it feels is how it works.

I haven’t yet had the chance to explore the iPhone 5 hands on1, so I can only imagine the phone is as nice as everyone says it is. The reason I link to Manjoo’s piece, though, is because the excerpt blockquoted above is a perfect summation of why I value Apple products so highly.

I love the work of Jony Ive and his team. I love that Apple cares that much about build quality that they’ll make mass market consumer electronics out of aluminum and glass. I love Apple products not only for their build quality but for their beauty as well. I love iOS not only for its ease of use and butter-smooth fluidity but also for how it looks. It’s polished and organized and visually appealing. By the same token, I love third-party apps like Tweetbot and Instapaper not only because they’re well-designed but because they look good. I value things like visual appeal and how something “feels”. Simply put, I am most definitely, unabashedly an aesthete.

  1. Not for lack of trying. Every time I’ve stopped in to my local AT&T store, the crowd around the one working floor model scares me away.  ↩