When you write for an outlet like Core77, or any of our competitors, you get a lot of e-mails from people wanting publicity for their designs. Obviously we can’t (and shouldn’t) cover all of it, but I thought some of you might be curious to see what comes in, why we pass over most of it, and what we’d like to see more of.
I should point out here: I don’t consider myself an authority on design. I have about fifteen years of experience working in industrial design, and roughly 25 years of writing about it, which has allowed me to interview a lot of designers, learn from their experiences and examine their subcategories of ID. So while I might be better informed than the average Joe about the profession of ID, I am still a product of my own tastes, desires, experiences and needs, and do not possess any universally applicable wisdom. I have opinions and I am biased.
That being said, here’s what we recently received in our in-boxes:
That’s the name of a new font inspired by feline tails for a cat food subscription service. Call me a tribalist, but as a dog owner with a background in practical ID, I have a hard time getting excited by both cats and fonts.
Luxury Design for Kids
This was from a firm that works with “incredible Interior Designers in order to create the most amazing bedrooms for kids,” in this case, to fulfill “the dream of a little boy who adores the sky and all the elements within.” This reminds me of shuffling past a five-year-old sitting in First Class while I make my way towards my seat in Economy. It also reminds me that designing for the rich is, and will always be, lucrative.
This Keurig-for-cocktails is a pod-based single-serve cocktail station. The idea is that you pour in your base rotgut of choice, and the fruity parts come in the capsules. After the market failure of the Juicero, I didn’t think we’d see more entries in the prepackaged-beverage-with-countertop-appliance-intermediary space, but I was wrong. If this is what America wants, this is what America will get.
The Rugged Laptop Bag for Adventurous Pro Photographs Wading Through Rivers has become such a huge category that I feel like I get e-mailed one of these per week. I can’t blame the designers, but the sheer amount of these I see just leads to fatigue. Plus I can’t tell what’s good or bad by looking at it–I’ve owned quite a few bags, and only discover I don’t like them after several months of use and reflection.
The Omnifob is designed for users to be able to wield multiple smart home and car functions from a single device. I don’t have a smart home and don’t trust this to replace my car’s key fob, as they say it can do. But overall, I wouldn’t cover this simply due to general skepticism of new domestic technologies and “smart homes” in general. To me, the trade-off in cost and hassles of smart homes does not seem worth the supposed benefits.
Back in the day tech blogs would be thrilled to have a new gizmo to cover, and would be excited to publish it first. But with something like this, I’d prefer to wait and see if it actually does make a difference in peoples’ lives, and only then would I go back to get the design story. This is another category of objects where, through no fault of the designers, fatigue has set in. My in-box is crammed with technological doohickeys promising to revolutionize our lives with button presses.
These are portable additional laptop monitors. I can clearly see the utility, but as with the Omnifob I’m skeptical before anything else, and would wait to see if these are actually practical to carry around and if they do work well. If they made a splash in the marketplace, I’d then chase the designers down.
Highly portable bit holders and multitools seem to kill it on Kickstarter these days. I have no idea why they’re so popular, but they demonstrably are, judging by the crowdfunding numbers. If a young product designer seeking an early hit asked me what s/he should design, I’d say a multitool is a good project–the functions are pretty clear-cut, and there appears to be an enormous market for them.
The Lensta Grip
This object adds an ergonomic, SLR-like grip to smartphones and adds a shutter button. I’m a fan of ergonomics in general, but I’m not sure why this looks like a rolled-up gym sock. It doesn’t look professional nor finished to me.
Designed for the user who needs to “carry my arsenal of wedges and putter when you are near the green but not sure which club to bring from your cart,” this actually seems useful for golfers, but I’m not sure how much of our readership plays golf.
Carrying multiple pole-like objects has also been on my mind lately, as I recently returned from a martial arts training retreat where I had to bring multiple weapons (wooden sword, cane, two staves, three spears) and I’ve found there really is no way to easily carry all of them together. In the photo below I’m using large extension cord wraps that did not prove suitable for the task.
If you imagine this times a thousand, you have an idea of the typical design blogger’s in-box on any given week. And as you can see, what gets chosen or not chosen for further coverage is a largely subjective process. Lastly I’ll say, what have turned into our most-trafficked posts typically did not arrive in our in-boxes, but were stories or ojbects of interest to us that we subsequently chased down.
Publicists, you’ve got your work cut out for you.