Henry, thank you.Now I know what dingbats are.I have seen them in listings of fonts, but I never really used them, or understood what their origin is.
I really appreciate your description of the subtleties of the design of the book.I have always liked such things, but I am becoming more used to electronic versions of books as time goes on.In the end, they are lighter (on one move my wife and I made we were informed that our books weighed 3,000 pounds).I do miss the tactile feel of the real books, though.Most readers put a book in a standard format with pages being decided by screen size.
As for your mention of Apple and design, I find it interesting.I have always looked on their products as being much too expensive and closed.Many years ago I was the CIO of an aerospace plant.We had a large proposal to do and the team (which I had previously worked for) decided to go around me to purchase a network of Macs to do the proposal on.They wanted to bypass our tech pubs group and do the page layout themselves.They spent $200K on equipment and overran the proposal budget by $400K.As you can imagine, there was an inquest and the program manager lost his job.The reason I mention this in the context of your article is that of design.What we ended up doing was having senior engineers doing something they had no training in.The page layout and design aspects of the proposal (which was thousands of pages) was awful.We were lucky that we had bought the competitor before the bidding process was over.By the way, it was a $1B project.
There really is an art to creating a book.Even in the most plain text only books you would see references to fonts used.These had a lot to do with readability and the feeling one gets from reading the book.
What you're describing here is an instance when the art or design department made decisions apart from the need for simple functionality. As a former publisher, I know that the art department -- a wonderful crew -- needs to be monitored. Their aesthetic decisions can quickly divert from the practical needs of the reader.
I agree, Naperlou. I, too, have long thought that Apple products were overpriced. Maybe it's my engineering sensibility talking here, but I've always thought that the genius of Steve Jobs was in marketing and industrial design, not in technology, as is so often claimed. Apple's products have a reputation for being easier to use and learn, and Apple has been positively brilliant in appealing to customers who want, and are willing to pay for, high-end products.
From your picture, I fear you're falling prey to the same experience related shortcoming the rest of us with grey hair are feeling, to a greater or lesser extent. :) Opticians rejoice, I'm sure.
Design has a value, in how it makes us feel, and how it allows us to use technology. That value is irrespective of the age... errr experience... of the user. Business week has shifted to a layout which flags the page number in the middle of the right hand side of the page, in bold color. Most helpful, if lacking in subtlety.
Anyone who thinks that Engineers lack design sense (in the Aesthetic sense) should look at the things that Engineers designed in the 1930's. They looked strong, solid, sleek, fast. In their own way they were beautiful, definitely not awkward. Even the weapons of WWII had a very rugged practical look.
Of course, that was a day when Engineers sketched things by hand. Their inherent sense of fit guided their pencils. It wasn't a conscious thing. They simply drew things at a position and size that felt right. Then adjusted them as the requirements demanded.
Nowadays with the complex intermediary of the computer, we can do far more complex things. But that simple guiding flow has been broken, and it shows terribly. Making things beautiful and visually "organic" has become much harder.
I actually remember when I first saw it in the early 1980s. A shopping mall in my area had been refurbished, and I was stunned (in a bad way). The interior looked like a computer graphic (and back in those days, that was pretty simplistic). They had tried to incorporate "design" elements to make it visually interesting, but the overall effect was to make it look like it was built out of Legos.
I don't think architectural design has ever recovered, and I think the bull-nosed things they call cars today look heavy and mean. But who knows, maybe soon a method of creating things on the computer that is as intuitive as the pencil will be invented (don't say the stylus, it is a perfectly good input device, but until CAD software can make shapes from stylus sketches, it doesn't count. It is the method that needs to be invented, not the device).
I agree with you about engineering deisgn, Sparky Watt. Even today we see it. The Apple products are sleek and clean, engineering simplicity. Of course that changes quite a bit when my 16-year-old daughter customizes the products with bling.
It wasn't Jobs that brought beauty to the Mac. It was Jef Raskin. Search out his books & papers if you really want to know about form & function.
In an earlier age, L F Herroshoff's advice to a budding yacht designer was to ".. draw as much as possible (particularly freehand drawing)". Herroshoff was the son of an outstanding yacht designer and was himself one.
Both him & his father made significant advances to the technology of ship engineering for which, ".. it is very necessary to serve your time in a boat shop, where boats are really built, as this is the only practical way to learn."
I think his advice is just as valid to the budding engineer today.
An engineer's eye should be always looking to function. But in the greatest designs, form & function are one. Witness Mitchell's Spitfire or Sayer's E-type
Yep, it's a big trend. You can accessorize your iPod and iPhone to match what you're wearing. Apple and other suppliers are doing a big business in brightly colored sparkling covers for iPods and iPhones. Additional bling includes little items of colorful shapes. I bought my daughter a smartphone and inherited her dumbophone with has two sparkly hearts on the front.
Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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