How To Design With A Strong Point Of View
What is this? A concept for a car that drives itself, designed by a celebrated minimalist design firm whose partners conceived the Xbox 360 and early Android phones.
Why design it? "The driving experience hasn't changed much in 50 years. Safety and performance have improved, but driving remains basically the same," says Mike Simonian, who runs the studio with his partner, Maaike Evers.
Who commissioned it? Nobody. But look at that interior! Simonian explains, "We asked ourselves, What is the ultimate driving experience? Each person in our studio had a different idea of their dream driving experience, but what was consistent was none of these idealistic visions
really involved driving at all."
Sweet. Will it be made? Maybe. Probably not.
So again, why design it? Because assigning themselves a for-spec project--something Simonian and Evers do all the time--stretches their team beyond where paying clients may ask to go. That helps identify new frontiers. The goal, says Simonian, is to "separate our creative aspirations from our finances."
What did they learn here? "For centuries, we controlled our machines with levers, then knobs, then buttons, and finally displays on the machines themselves," he says. Now, he believes, controls will move off the machines and into mobile devices. "Just about every product category is ripe for substantial change."
Simonian designs Xbox360 in collaboration with Astro Studios
Mike and Maaike studio opens
Designs the first production Android phone, the G1, with Google
ATNMBL wins Michelin Design Challenge Award and IDEA Silver Award in Transportation Design from IDSA/Fast Company
Evers joins Board of Directors for Center for Architecture and Design in San Francisco
Evers juries IDEA 2011 International Design Excellence Awards; ATNMBL wins Michelin Design Challenge Award
Illustration courtesy of Mike & Maaike
A version of this article appears in the June 2012 issue of Fast Company.