Archive for the 'Apple' Category

Dieter Rams Designs


Just spent some time at the Dieter Rams exhibition at the Design Museum and I can now see not only why there were so many ‘Apple is the new Braun’ articles around the time they decided to get all perforated aluminium with their machines, but where the thinking behind the design comes from.

Rams led the Braun design team for 40 years and developed a powerful philosophical approach to design which is summed up in his ten principles of design.

Early portable tape machine (requires several strong people to carry)

  • Good design is innovative.
  • Good design makes a product useful.
  • Good design is aesthetic.
  • Good design makes a product understandable.
  • Good design is unobtrusive.
  • Good design is honest.
  • Good design is long-lasting.
  • Good design is thorough down to the last detail.
  • Good design is environmentally friendly.
  • Good design is as little design as possible.

The range of items the Braun team applied these principles to was enormous, from toasters and cigarette lighters to tape machines, home film cameras, music systems and shavers. And the exhibition shows off many of them and you can see the realisation of the principles in the spartan design as well as the design vocabulary of the buttons and shapes that have become utterly iconic. It’s impressive how few of today’s products even begin to meet Rams’ principles.

And you can also see the effect Rams’ principles have had on modern industrial designers, not least Apple’s Johnathan Ive, whose commentaries on his designs echo Rams’ early experiences as a carpenter and artisan. In particular, how the design for the iPod epitomises much of what Rams was doing and thinking, much more so than the perforated aluminium Mac towers. It’s just a shame that, while they’ve got a new MacBook and iPod, they haven’t actually got any kind of quote from Ive himself.

Once we all dreamt of having hi-fi systems like this (with a record player and tape machine)

Overall, it’s a nice exhibition and the exposure to Rams’ principles is inspiring, but I would have liked to have more commentary on the development of the principles and when and how Rams came up with them. I’d also like to have had more of a direct link to current products that echo these principles, the one case of stuff they have is hardly enough to suggest a long-term legacy. Otherwise you’re left with a bit of a feeling that this is an exhibition about the past (and the past of Braun in particular), rather than one about a powerful design philosophy that is as relevant today as it ever was.

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Archive for the 'Apple' Category

More Better Bigger Faster


Beatmaker on the iPhoneCould this be my absolute favourite app yet? Not entirely sure seeing as I’m very attached to Posterize, but it’s a damn close run thing. Only the other day I was thinking about having to have the fantastic Maschine, only to wake up at 4 in the morning and find this on the app store. Admittedly it costs (and at over a tenner it’s at the extreme end of the app cost range), and it’s like some kind of spastic half-arsed country cousin to Maschine, but it’s actually not bad at all. I was able to pull together some bits and pieces and cobble together a new track (all 53 seconds of it) and still have enough time to go back to sleep before morning. 01 First Stab is the result and I’ve got to say it’s pretty bloody good for something put together on a phone in bed at 5am. Definitely something I’ll be spending more time with. I’m not sure if there’s any kind of song sharing community – the BeatMaker community seems pretty new – but it would be great to hear what other people are doing with this.

A small section of the huge mud wall painting at Tate Britain

A small section of the huge mud wall painting at Tate Britain

Something else I’ll be spending more time with is Posterize. A great simple, free app that turns your iPhone pictures into pseudo-polaroids and lets you scribble any message you like on it, as long as it’s 14 characters or less. Simple and potentially stupid, it’s a bit like photo candy or popcorn or crack. Once you’ve done a bit you probably want to do some more. My latest were taken at the Richard Long exhibition at the Tate Britain, which is pretty bloody fantastic too. It’s one of the first exhibitions for ages where the catalogue is genuinely worth having. And you can see what the effect of Posterize is on this too. It just makes the colours look really enticing and I love the stupid writing. You can see more Posterize images in the Posterize group on Flickr and more of my ones on my Flickr pages.

Meanwhile, putting the iPhone and its apps aside for one moment, let me roundly condemn Van Cam for introducing me to Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Preacher comic. I’d been trying to avoid it for ages, mainly because I’d taken a somewhat irrational dislike to Dillon’s artwork (no accounting for taste), but I got suckerpunched into it when we were inadvertantly browsing through the racks at the Trafalgar Square Waterstones. Now I’ve read the first issue I’m bloody well crack happy on the book and only too aware that I’m going to have to blow hard earned cash money on the remaining 8 or 9 volumes. Bastard.

Finally, I’m loving the new Little Boots album.

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Archive for the 'Apple' Category

Updated for the Summer


Large copper sulphate crystal from Roger Hiorns Seizure installation

Large copper sulphate crystal from Roger Hiorns Seizure installation

The Kids Who Do Art were obviously very, very clever. Having had the contents of last year’s Turner Prize substantially dissed, they decided to ensure that this year’s nominations at least produced some interesting, albeit highly exclusive, art, rather than tedious monologues of string and manikins.

This time instead of nominating some oververbal, cliche ridden artphags, the Turner Prize people have nominated personal favourite Roger Hiorns (along with three other lucky losers). Hiorns, who poured anything between 60,000 and 90,000 gallons/litres/bathtubs of copper sulphate into a council flat to ‘see what happened‘, is everything the Turner people need after the tedium and torpor of last year. Most essentially he gets noticed outside the patronisingly oblique little artworld that the Turner people inhabit. Seizure, the copper sulphate council house, is fantastically compelling and emphasises that the most extraordinary, most relevant art today is taking place outside the confines of the galleries and museums the Turner people live in. The demand for spectaculars, whether it be Seizure or the recent grafitti under Waterloo station, far outweighs that for most retrospective showpeice exhibitions. Admittedly, at least one of the other nominees, Richard Wright, is interesting, but for my money it’s Hiorns’ to lose. I particularly look forward to seeing the Little Artists’ lego version.

Meanwhile, I’ve been adding to my overbearing web presence. In particular I’ve been forced (forced you understand) to upgrade my Flickr account. You can see all my pics from the copper sulphate house, along with a whole load of other stuff, most of which has been taken by and manipulated within my iPhone. I can’t wait for Apple to put together a halfway decent camera lens for it in the next release.

I was super happy to find out that after what seemed like three or four lifetimes worth of waiting, Powers volume 12 is out. I had worried that, as with many comics, I might have got bored during the interval and it would be a hideous disappointment, but I needn’t have wasted the worry. Powers 12 is the best volume yet, finalising the Deena Pilgrim story arc along with a bunch of in-the-wings characters. Overall it feels as bittersweet as the final episode of The Wire series 3, it’s hugely satisfying, but I’ve no idea where they’re going to take the series now. Pilgrim sitting on a beach somewhere feels very reminiscent of McNulty swinging a baton as he’s returned to the beat. Still in Bendis we trust. Like David Simon, he seems to have his finger on the pubic bone of the police procedural and is capable of playing it about at will.

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Videotastic


After all that messing about with sequencing, I thought I’d mess about with video. This has been made with iMovie and really it couldn’t be simpler. iMovie imports all the video on your machine – not that much in my case as I don’t actually have a video camera and have to rely on the video from my camera and strangely it didn’t catch the movies from Ratter’s Flip camera – but it’s enough to play with.

Putting the clips together and trimming the various clips is also pretty simple, although I’d like to be able to see the audio waveform when trimming, rather than simply hearing it, to ensure I got the trimming absolutely spot on. However, given I haven’t bothered to read any documentation or view anything other than the opening You Can Do This movie, I’m sure there are ways to do this. In any case it doesn’t seem to have proved too much of a deterrant to getting the cuts in the right place.

Anyway, this is a video of the Boon cavorting to my latest tune Kyle.

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Dawn of the apps


It’s all starting to come together. A few weeks ago I discovered a peculiar thing. I’ve always carried a small camera with me ever since the days of the original Cannon Ixus, more for a sense of ‘it’ll be there when I need it’ than any really coherent plan. I’ve worked my way up from film to digital to really proper 5 megapixel + digital. And the more digital and costless it’s become the more I’ve been using it. However, recently I’ve been leaving it at home and there it sits getting ever more lonely.
So what has brought about this change? Have I just stopped taking pictures or what? Obviously if you look at this blog or my Flickr photostream you’ll see I haven’t, so what is going on?
The fact is I’ve downgraded, or not so much downgraded as sidestepped. I’m still carrying a camera only instead of boasting super focusing and loads of manual control like the Ixus, it boasts pretty crap resolution but a host of fantastic add-ons. It is of course my iPhone. And the single most compelling reason for using it as my main camera is the ability it gives me to adapt, publish and share my pictures.
Using relatively inexpensive apps, like ColorSplash, Photogene, and Mobile Fotos, I can take pictures, colour correct them, crop them and play with them, then upload them immediately to my Flickr page. It’s a revelation.
Of course it would be doubly great if the camera in the iPhone wasn’t such a dog, but what really surprised me was that I found the immediacy offered by the iPhone/app/Flickr combination far outweighed the superiority of the Ixus images. Sure I’ll still use the Ixus for my big Hockneyesque collages, but for everything else the apps have it.

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Colorsplash


Another neat little app for the iPhone, Colorspash is probabably the best £1.19 I’ve spent recently.
Colorsplash strips the colours from your iPhone photos, then lets you put it back in a finger painting style. Simple to use and with the best help system of any app I’ve played with, this is both powerful and fun to use. It is also highly versitile, allowing me to fine tune the feathers of The Diva’s boa.
There has been a growing trend for apps that make the iPhone into a truly creative platform – painting and photographic ones especially – and Colorsplash is a great,fun addition to these.

The Diva in performance mode

The Boys discover bottle throwing

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