Janelle Zara
Architecture & Design News

OBJECT LESSONS: Architecture & Design News

Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

Steve Jobs’s Childhood Home Designated Historical Landmark

Steve Jobs’s childhood home in Los Altos, California, was designated a landmark by the the Los Altos Historical Commission on Monday, reports the San Jose Mercury News. The home currently belongs to Jobs’s sister, Patricia Jobs, for whom the decree is both an honor and an inconvenience; she’ll now have to get any renovations to the house approved by the Commission. Much like Apple’s clunky early computers bear little resemblance to the company’s sleek present wares, the single-story home is a far cry from Norman Foster’s intergalactic-looking redesign of the current Apple campus in nearby Cupertino.

In a set of exhaustive documents submitted to the Commission, city planning officials explain that the house at 2066 Crist Drive is historically significant because Jobs and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak manufactured the first 50 units of Apple 1, the company’s first computer, in the attached garage during the mid-1970s. Furthermore, Jobs courted Apple’s initial investors at the residence, signing the company’s first partnership at the home in 1976. Nine months later, the company relocated to its current headquarters in Cupertino, built a few computers, designed a couple of interfaces, and developed some smug ad campaigns. The rest, as they say, is history, or rather, “historically significant.”

— Anna Kats

Image courtesy of Patrick Tehan

Snarkitecture Designs a Pillow to Cradle Your Coddled iPhone

As the New York Times reported in the forthrightly titled 2011 op-ed, “You Love Your iPhone. Literally,” our feelings toward handheld “technology that does everything but kiss us on the mouth” are akin to those we have for real-life, human companions. The study cited found that our “brains responded to the sound of their phones as they would respond to the presence or proximity of a girlfriend, boyfriend or family member,” which would explain the rising number of gadgets, bejeweled accessories, and impractical do-dads designed specifically for our smartphones in mind. Really, how else do we express our love outside the form of gifts?


The Return of Modernism — On Facebook

Avid smartphone users (a.k.a. everyone) may have noticed a startling change lately: The look of the all-mighty Facebook app is… a little different. Where there were once 3-D buttons, there are now perfectly flat rectangles; no longer is the thumbs-up of the “Like” icon shaded for texture or wearing a button on the cuff of its shirt. Now it’s been reduced to a two-dimensional outline.

While Facebook rolls out site changes as frequently as its users post status updates, this flattening brings to mind the rise of art and design movements of the past. As Facebook users more frequently check their newsfeeds on their mobile devices, engineers have had to reduce elaborate skeuomorphs (that is, silly and highly detailed references of real world objects in their digital counterparts, like that hideous stitching on the beige leather iCal) to fit the constraints of their tiny canvases. There’s just not that much room — or time — for flashy graphics. “When today’s graphics are too busy — layered with gradients and elaborate typography — people are forced to try to navigate a clutter of information in a very small space,” writes Nick Bilton on his New York Times Bits blog. “On a smartphone screen, for example, a flat icon of a musical note can tell a story much quicker than an intricate picture of a shiny sparkling CD.”


Architecture Rumor! Apple Seeks Out Foster + Partners to Revamp Store Design, Maybe

Despite how dry the architecture scene looks to outsiders, the rumor mill is always a-churnin’ there. The latest whisper to be amplified over the internet? Some unnamed sources have let out that Apple has hired Foster + Partners to work on designs for its (recently trademarked) retail outlets.

If this is true, it would mean some serious design matrimony between Steve Jobs and Norman Foster’s respective empires. Foster and his firm are already working on constructing a donut-shaped UFO to house Apple employees in Cupertino, California — a contentious project for a number of reasons, not least of which involves the design team underestimating the budget by billions of dollars. With that debacle yet to be defused, it might be a good idea to keep another Foster + Apple partnership under wraps. While a spokesman for Apple refused to comment on the speculations, according to Marketing Magazine, a spokeswoman for Foster + Partners responded to the rumor by saying “[a]ny project for Apple is confidential and therefore we are unable to comment.”

Photo: Apple’s Upper West Side store in New York City, courtesy Apple, Inc.

- Kelly Chan

The iMac, Reincarnated as a Light Fixture

Believe it or not, these pendant lamps were computers in a former life.

By the looks of things, I would guess that in the ’90s the words “Good Design” had yet to enter Jonathan Ive’s lexicon. The iMac of that era was a bulky desktop fixture that didn’t even have our modern-day necessities: iTunes, FaceTime, and good lord, not even PhotoBooth. But with its transparent plastic candy-colored shell, it was just so damn pretty. With our Apple culture of constant upgrades, updates, and version 6.0’s, one would assume that the incompatibility of those old machines with any type of contemporary OS would render them obsolete, but not so. Rather than throw them away (or use them as garbage cans) Toronto-based travel agency G Adventure put their old iMacs back to work as light fixtures. One nifty Instagram user shared this clever bit of adaptive reuse, which included gutting those Dayglow shells, attaching lightbulbs, and hanging them up in their offices. As Martha Stewart would say, “It’s a good thing.”

The only question left is what to do with our candy-colored, outdated versions of the iPod. All 10 of them. [Thanks, Gizmodo!]

— Janelle Zara

Who Saw the Apple Slap Bracelet Coming?

Contrary to recent reports that Apple is exploring the possibility of a wearable device of curved glass, a patent filing unearthed by AppleInsider shows designs from 2011 for a “bi-stable spring with flexible display,” otherwise known as a slap bracelet. That’s a #tbt (throwback Thursday).

“While the device itself can conform to nearly any appendage, a suitable location would be a user’s wrist.” – AppleInsider


A Brief History of Smartwatch Failure; Or, The Road Apple Shouldn’t Go Down

Following the announcement yesterday that an Apple smartwatch of curved glass may be in the works, Kevin Roose and New York Magazine rounded up such a device’s frequent appearance throughout history (in addition to the fictional ones worn by Dick Tracy, Inspector Gadget,and James Bond). The timeline stretches back to 1982, when Seiko tried to put a tiny TV on the wrist and was answered with dismal sales. Then there was the 1998 RuPuter, 2003 Microsoft SPOT, and the 2005 Fossil Palm OS, all otherwise remembered as market failure, market failure, and market failure.

The Pebble Smartwatch. “Umm, helllooooo?”


iC-U-P: Potty Trainer Equipped With iPad Stand Unveiled at Consumer Electronics Show

Society, we just don’t know anymore.


Unpacking the Paradoxically Antiquated Look of Apple’s OS Design

Why is it that Apple’s design in the physical world is so “Tron: Legacy”…

sleek, sexy, futuristic, bright

… while its design in the digital world is so “That ’70s Show”?

the total opposite

Fast Company gets to the bottom of the perplexing aesthetic dichotomy. Boiled down, it’s all “visual masturbation.”


The Enduring Simplicity of Apple

“…strive for a Design that is centered on the message rather than visual titillation.”

Massimo Vignelli, “The Vignelli Canon”

“Good design is as little design as possible.”

Dieter Rams, “Ten Principles of Good Design”

The Retina Macbook Pro