Saturday, October 8, 2011

The man that made tech sexy

“In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains of the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.” - Steve Jobs, 1955 - 2011

When you think of technology, you think of Apple, and the man behind it all, Steve Jobs.

While Steve Jobs' sudden passing on Wednesday shocked the world, he left behind a legacy like no other. Single-handedly building up the tech giant, Apple, he was a visionary and creative genius, and spurred industry, culture and entertainment shifts.

He changed the way people looked at technology. When he introduced the first generation iPod a decade ago, he turned the clunky MP3 and portable CD player which didn't fit into one's pocket or purse into something so sleek, attractive and aesthetically pleasing. With just, a simple scroll wheel and a large screen, it became the coveted MP3 player for all to have. It even became fashionable. The iPod became an instant fashion item, an icon, and fashion designers picked up on it. In a report in 2004, Lagerfeld was reported saying, 'The iPod completely changed the way people approach music.' It inspired Lagerfeld to create iPod carrying cases for Fendi and influenced Fendi's collection then. iPod carrying cases like the Juke Box, and other carrying cases made of translucent materials (reminiscent of Apple's use of transparent plastic), accompanied by a circular motif, reference to the iPod's scroll wheel was seen throughout Lagerfeld's collection in 2004. Other fashion houses like Gucci, introduced an iPod sling, a carrying case with leather trim and silver clasps. The iPod became an icon, and Steve Jobs never looked back.

After the iPod came a slew of other sleek and desirable products, the iPod nano, the iTouch, iPhone and of course, the latest offering, the iPad. And who can forget the series of Macbooks? It was a cool gadget, and the coolest people (other than geeks), used them - that was the trend back when I was in school, and that trend has not reversed since.

Steve Jobs was not only the CEO of Apple, but also a designer himself. Design was at the heart of his vision, and he had an eye for detail in the design of all of Apple's products. His exacting eye allowed him to conjure magic in those lines and curves. One look at an Apple product, and you feel the need to pick it up and caress it. Former Apple design guru Jerry Manock who collaborated with Steve Jobs on the original Macintosh computer recalls, 'He [Steve Jobs] would encourage us to try different things, different aesthetic treatments to achieve the goal he had in the back of his mind. He'd say "What are ten different ways to treat the bottom curve on this product?"' In this sense, Steve Jobs was no less than a fashion designer himself, fostering an approach to product design that mirrored any designer's approach to haute couture. Before Steve, people didn't designer computers, but made them. The rate of Apple's innovation, put the whole tech industry to pace with the fashion industry - you'd get something new at least twice a year.

Indeed, Steve Jobs was an amazing person that will always be remembered by the world. He changed the world and made it better and there will probably no other like him. May his spirit always live on in Apple's company philosophy and may he always be an inspiration for technology companies, designers and all of us. Rest in peace, Steve.

- Fal

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