Design Product Design

  I'm sure everyone has seen those cliche complaint department signs that ask you to take a number so that your displeasure can be registered, heard, and acted upon by the appropriate corporate complaint owner. Just to be funny, the number is connected to the pin of a simulated hand grenade. I can certainly sympathize with the concept, nobody really wants to deal with bad news for a career. There isn't much of a wait, unfortunately, at the happy line. I think it's fairly safe to say that happy customers have a tendency to be much less vocal than the disgruntled. Oddly enough, I have a complaint that just won't go away that also involves a pin. All ThinkVision monitors, that include height adjustment, ship with a small blue pin that disables the useful feature for shipment. This is important because collapsing the height adjustment allows the carton to be much smaller and far less expensive to ship. We also need to secure the monitor in the lowest position so that when you pull it out of the package it doesn't unexpectedly sproing into the fully extended mode. This would be a surprise that no customer would want. My complaint is that I often see our monitors installed with the shipping pin still in place. This means someone paid more money for the ergonomic feature and the ultimate user isn't aware that their monitor adjusts. In the field we have even seen these monitors placed on phonebooks to raise the...

Continue reading “Please Pull The Pin”

Back in November of 2008, I first learned of the Lenovo super secret project that would eventually become the Skylight smartbook . It sounded fascinating to me that we would attempt to create an entirely new offering category in the computer space. I could only imagine a device that would behave similar to a smart phone, but be of a size and scale that would make it more suitable for viewing or typing data. The design goal was also to create something that would turn heads. It could not look like just another miniature notebook computer. I thought it would be a great project to get Richard Sapper, our long time design guru, involved with. After all, Richard has specialized in turning the ordinary into the extraordinary for decades. I've seen him do it over and over again with things as seemingly mundane as a desk lamp, cheese grater, tea kettle, kitchen timer, transistor radio, television set, and of course our own ThinkPad classic. When I first proposed the idea to the executive team I was asked by several if Sapper had ever designed a consumer product. Not such a surprising question if your view to Sapper and his work has been through the restricted lens of business computers, but I knew better. I quickly made a Powerpoint slide show of Sapper's work, to make it...

Continue reading “Sapper, Stradivarius and Skylight”

ThinkPad X100e ThinkPad Edge 13"

Continue reading “Not only black”

AC adapters are an ever increasing part of our lives. Cell phones, digital cameras, GPS devices, MP3 players, and of course laptop computers all use them. I personally have at least a dozen in my house, most are ThinkPad adapters which are deployed in critical spots to power my T400s.  I also have  four or five in my office, and of course one in my backpack. I certainly don't want to be stranded somewhere without one.  Working at Lenovo exposes you to more computer users in one day than probably any job in the world. Everyone I see has a ThinkPad in hand either on the way to a meeting or is already there using one. It's very common for Lenovians to carry an AC adapter to meetings, especially if they are long ones.  Trust me I've certainly been in my share of  those. Martha would be proud Over the  years I've noticed that people are not just physically, but are also emotionally connected to their AC adapters. It's scary just how much attention is paid to them. People zip them into special pouches, carefully carry them their in laptop bags, or purses, slide them into a convenient pocket, or sling them over their shoulder like a jaunty scarf. Some people label them with their business card to avoid disappearing adapter syndrome. This happens way too often in the corporate world. I've had a few people even suggest we make the adapters the exact size of their...

Continue reading “Time to Unwind”

ThinkCentre A70z with chrome wire form stand It's been a while since we got to design and introduce an all-in-one computer targeted at the business user. Lately we have been designing primarily towers and pancakes of various sizes. My team pioneered this category way back in the year 1999 with the watershed design of the NetVista X40.  The head turning design was done in close collaboration with our design guru Richard Sapper. It was a great experience for all involved. The trim flat panel based X40 was a serious counter punch to the overtly pudgy and candy colored CRT based offering introduced by a "fruit" company. Amazing how they have changed their design approach since then.  One reviewer humorously mentioned that the design we created looked as though it could beat up the "pudgy one"  after school and steal their lunch money. In 2001 we significantly updated the design of the X40. You can watch a short video we shot that highlights the design of the X41 on YouTube. The hair styles may look a bit dated but the computer doesn't. It was a dramatic improvement not only in terms of overall appearance, but also ergonomic flexibility, serviceability, configurability, and system performance. Domus magazine ran a major story on the X41 design which included the world's first, and I think only,

Continue reading “The Return of the Business Class All-in-One”