Mobilephone design: back to simplicity

It is funny to see how mobile phone design is back to pure and simple lines. One can still spot here and there devices with a strong design made to impress and show off but the global trend is moving towards pure lines and fewer buttons.
One of the guru of industrial design Dieter Rams seems to have inspired all the today’s mobile phones designer to such extend some see his influence in Apple’s design. And when one has a close look it seems quite obvious:

Braun and Apple products face to face

Braun and Apple products face to face

The comparison doesn’t stop here you can read the full article on gizmodo on Braun’s design influence on Apple.

It is true that Rams’ work at Braun still influences most the designer and the industrial design process within the mobile space. He was one of the first to embed designer, engineers and marketing guys in one cross fuction team. According to Dieter Rams interview it was not straight forward as it is today.
This approach is now quite common to make appealing products.

The 10 Dieter Rams rules for good design are:
• Good design is innovative.
• Good design makes a product useful.
• Good design is aesthetic.
• Good design helps us to understand a product.
• Good design is unobtrusive.
• Good design is honest.
• Good design is durable.
• Good design is consequent to the last detail.
• Good design is concerned with the environment.
• Good design is as little design as possible.

I have some doubts about the environment and durable part of the design of most mobile phones but for the rest manufacturers are on the same page.
One interesting designer following these rules is Jasper Morrison who designed this Samsung handset I find simple and beautiful:

Samsung SGH-E590 designed by Jasper Morisson

Samsung SGH-E590 designed by Jasper Morisson

What I really like with this designs is that it really makes the mobile phone at a human scale and as usable tool for everyday life like a Kikkoman sauce bottle or a Bic pen.

The next frontier of design is now the OS User Interface where I believe the Dieter Ram’s rules apply too.


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