Co.Design

Watch: Apple’s Poetic Statement On Its Design Process

Minimalist? Simple? Flat? In this video, Apple reminds the world that its design goes beyond Bauhaus sensibility.

At WWDC, the lights went down, the hollers went up, and then Apple played this video in a near whisper. In that moment, I thought it was mistimed. It was too much of a love-in intro to an event with so much electricity in the air, and it clearly contained a poetic subtlety that needed a consideration beyond "zomg, is iOS 7 really going flat?!?"

Seeing it again now, I’ve come to truly appreciate the clip. Every piece of its animation is beautiful, playful, surprising, and interconnected—it’s a physical manifestation of Apple’s latest printed statement on design—one that challenges those of us who’ve begun to simplify its approach as "simpler" or "flatter" or even "sexy." Here’s a transcription for your easy reading (punctuation my own):

If everyone is busy making everything, how can anyone perfect anything? We start to confuse convenience with joy. Abundance with choice. Designing something requires focus. The first thing we ask is: What do we want people to feel? Delight. Surprise. Love. Connection. Then we begin to craft around our intention. It takes time. There are a thousand no’s for every yes. We simplify, we perfect, we start over, until everything we touch enhances each life it touches. Only then do we sign our work: Designed by Apple in California.

The piece is, of course, a primer to Apple’s latest design-centric promotional tagline, that "Designed by Apple in California" finale. But it’s also a shot at the Samsungs and Googles of the world, who are attacking Apple’s mobile marketshare head-on with feature-loaded devices that, with every subsequent generation, are becoming nicer to hold and look at.

It’s a reminder that design is not intended to be any one thing, other than created with the intent for human use. That’s why the word "delightful" is as important as "streamlined." And hopefully, it’s a lesson that Apple itself takes to heart as it marries iOS, OSX, and a slew of hard, metal, and glass devices together in the years to come.

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17 Comments

  • Taylor

    I'm not sure that my technology needs to be an experience, emotional, delightful, or otherwise. It just needs to work. It needs accomplish its purpose. I'd rather practicality, something that does its function very well so that I can turn away and experience life.

  • Axion

    Agency: TBWA\Media Arts Lab CCO: Duncan Milner ECD: Eric Grunbaum, Steve Turner GCD: Chris Ribeiro, Drew Stalker CD: Ben Kay ACD/CW: Brooks Jackson, Deborah Casswell, Jane Atkinson Sr. AD: Pauline Kerleroux AD: Danny Duran Sr. CW: David Oswald, Damien Ruzé CW: Zane Miller, Rob Goldenberg, Daniel Roznovjak, Mara Rizzetto, Juanjo Saldivar Executive Producer: Mike Refuerzo, Dan Heighes  Agency Producers: Mallory Gordon, Ben Bragg, Stephanie Gocke, Tessa Kocourek, Jennifer Taylor, Charlotte Glennon, Lee Cameron Production/Animation Co: Buck Director: Buck

  • Braden witt

    WE GET IT APPLE THANKS we dont care how small how BULLSHIT of a claim you make that you are innovating wow its little.... what about the programs what about all the features we keep loosing and the dumbed down pro tools.  

    I WANT TO BE ABLE TO WORK MY WAY I HATE WORKING YOUR WAY IN MOST PROGRAMS NOW. 

    Apple is the best example of bullshit innovation being sold on the back of bettering life.. life was better when my laptop came with every kind of connector and cord

  • Nicholas M. Cummings

    You realize that Apple devices are just as root-able as Android ones, right? Or that Apple's software-hardware integration actually does result in better memory management and better battery life, right? And that having a wider selection of app developers and apps than anywhere else means you're more likely to find the app that does what you need it to do on an Apple mobile device, right?

    But yea, cry on

  • Juwei Nam

    My macbook says otherwise. It doesn't last nearly as long as one would think to even a normal Windows PC. Hardware integration? Hahhaaha. Bullshit. I have a 2.3 ghz intel core i5 processor
    with DDR3 8 gb memory Macbook Pro. It's not that bad, but not that great at 1600 dollars. At the same specs, a pc is half that price. I can get a pc with quad core processor i7 with DDR3 32 gb ram for still less than 1600. Specs that macs can't even touch. Specs that are lightning fast. Let's not forgot I would use a Nvidia card for sure and the latest. Still cheaper. NO MAC can handle what Pixar does.
    Bull fucking shit. You don't know what's in your computer besides what Mac is selling you. "It's great! Our hardware is the best!"
    So is a pc. They actually use many of the same brands. What IS mac owned is their OS which is partial open-source and even then it is considered the os for dummies. I hate my mac. I really do.
    But really what do you actually know about tech besides what the commercial sells you?
    Obviously nothing.

  • Nicholas M. Cummings

    Mac OS X has less than a quarter of the system calls that bloated Windows has, and takes less than half of the RAM to run. That's software design versus bloat. Bill Gates is actually quoted as saying he just counted on processor speeds to double instead of making the hard decisions.

    And you're full of shit saying you can get a i7 quad-core PC laptop with 32gb of RAM for the same price as a MacBook Pro ($1199-1799). The top laptops on the market are i7 16gb RAM and benchmark about where the 15-inch Retina MacBook does, at about 9-12 pounds without the Retina display.

    But I guess making stuff up to bolster your argument is almost as good as working at Best Buy and MicroCenter for 2.5 years and actually seeing the products firsthand.

  • Ash Hathaway

    Stylistically this ad is very attractive. I'm a big fan of "flat" design and art, so I really liked this ad pairing things down to very simple elements. However, I feel like it really lacks the drama of what makes Apple great. This ad next to "Think Different" or the 1984 ad seems like a bad art school exercise.

  • forrest ethington

    This video is a statement of purpose for one department of Apple, not an advertisement, and so the premise of comparing it as an ad to other ads is false. 

  • rmintzes

    When I first saw this at the start of the keynote, I thought it hinted that iOS would in fact be going black and white and flat all over, as one of the rumors had stated in the run-up to WWDC. Thankfully it maintained a good balance of vibrancy and flatness. Still, I adored the composition of this intro, and I still do. Better than their product ads, in my opinion, but of course those are a totally different animal...

  • iconwerk

    Yeah, and then they presented the clumsy iOS7 icons and a visually almost unchanged OS X :-)

  • Jon Williams

    From the glimpse at iOS7 we've had this week, I only wish there had been a few more "no's" in the rush to create the new icon system (I'm looking at you Game Center). 7 months is an insane deadline for a full UI overhaul, so here's hoping there will be room for refinement before it launches.