Design Classic Design

 The "design for babies" world is ripe for meaningful innovation. Unfortunately way too much effort is spent on cute and not enough on function. I for one had to suffer through strollers with ridiculously small wheels that got snagged in every sidewalk crack, diaper bags with a million compartments that were never right, and frilly things that just got way too dirty to be useful. Every once in a while you found something that broke through the ordinary to a very special place. For me the classic Tommee Tippee cup fits that definition. I literally grew up with this classic, my Mom still has mine tucked away in her basement. It may be a bit worse for wear, but it still works.  If you aren't familiar with it, the idea is really derived by combining the fundamental principles of geometry with gravity. The bottom of the cup is is a fully spherical form with a nice embedded weight. Combining this innovation with a familiar sipper lid, and you have it. If accidently tipped over it automatically rights itself without spilling a drop. Very hard to beat this one for simplicity that just works. Still in production for over 50 years and going strong, it personifies the " gee I wish I had thought of it category". David Hill

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One of my favorite topics is the discussion of design classics. Everyone seems to have their own favorites that are always at the top of their mind. These are the kinds of things that you just can't live without or their classic status provides even more desire to own one. To truly fall into this category it must have also stood the test of time. You can't design something and declare it a classic: the classic level of status is earned. One I love is the Zig Zag Corkscrew. Okay, there are entire museums devoted to the art of cork removal, but this one just keeps entertaining me. I've tried lever action, metal prongs, air pumps, and plain old brute force screw devices, but the Zig Zag seems to have more. Designed in the 1930's in France, it's a kinematic masterpiece of fun. Everytime I open a bottle of wine guests ask me where they can get one. It doesn't even seem possible that such a device would work, but it does. Whoever designed the original clearly understood the engineering principles behind linkages and the art of mechanical advantage. Every cork is effortlessly extracted time after time.This classic is a constant reminder that design at it's best elevates even the most mundane task to a new level of joy. Check out more at the virtual Corkscrew Museum: I intend on...

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When I was in design school many years ago I had a very inspirational professor who continuously stressed how important it was to understand the past in order to create the future. We were expected to become well versed on the history of design and familiar with classics as well as flops. At the time the art history department offered great courses on the history of art movements as well as architecture, but industrial design was not even mentioned. The study of my chosen field's history was pretty much a self-directed quest. Consequently, I spent hours in the university library reading design magazines and books learning about everything from Eames to the Edsel. Fortunately the University of Kansas had a great library system including an extensive collection of design periodicals dating back to the early 50's.  Today as my team is engaged in envisioning the next generation ThinkPad family I thought it was relevant to start a discussion and poll about models of historical significance in the ThinkPad line. Here are the candidates: 700c The machine that started it all. Who can ever forget the simple black box 700C with it's full color screen and bright red TrackPoint? Engineered like no other, In my mind this was the first legitimate notebook computer. I'm sure many of you remember the unattractive competitive clunkers that were out there with hang-on roller balls, flimsy...

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Often designers, or others, think that it's easy to create a design classic. Like you can order one up at will, follow the tried and true formula, pick the right colors, materials, and forms, and out comes an instant classic. This is simply not true. This didn't work for Dieter Rams of Braun fame or for that matter Charles Eames and his famous furniture for Herman Miller. Design classic status is earned not created. The dictionary substantiates this claim with this fundamental  definition: Clas-sic (kla-sik) adj. Belonging to the highest rank or class Serving as the established model or standard Having lasting significance or worth; enduring Formal, refined and restrained in style Simple and harmonious; elegant like the classic cut of a suit.  What is important is that the classic status is earned based on the quality of execution, enduring qualities, and restraint. You don't just declare it so.The other quality that design classics have in common is that changes to them must be highly considered. Even the slightest change can wreak havoc amongst loyalists. Can you imagine what would happen to these brands if the following scenarios became real? Harley-Davidson stops production of the V- twin engine. Whisper quiet replacement in the works! Chrysler cancels production of the boxy-utilitarian Jeep in favor of low slung aerodynamic model. Fender to discontinue Stratocaster...

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  It would wrong to get this blog started without talking about Richard Sapper. He is the design genius behind the original ThinkPad and many other design classics. Richard’s biography can be found here.  He is most noted for his masterpiece of form and function the Tizio lamp . Introduced in 1972,  the Tizio and has been in continuous production ever since.   Often described as a “the man who has never made a bad design” , Richard created the original ThinkPad design concept in the early 90's. Richard often describes the design as being inspired by the Japanese Bento box – the traditional lacquered “lunch box” that is a masterpiece in itself of simplicity and beauty. Richard is also known for his classic designs for Brionvega, Mercedes, Alessi, Knoll, and Lamy.  Dialog 1 Interesting to note that several of his television and radio designs from the 1960's can still be purchased today nearly in their original form.We’re glad Richard is still involved with our design team helping to steer our design directions. If you are interested in reading more about Richard I suggest you

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