Brilliant article on FROG Design’s website this week: The iPod and the Bathtub:Managing Perceptions through Design Language

Personally, when I look at an iPod, my mind doesn’t immediately make the connection with toilet bowls and bathtubs, but that’s probably the result of conditioning. Or rather… “sensitization”.

Instead, I think back to the perfectly clean white plastic spaceship sets of Star Wars (the original – Episode IV) and the shiny white plastic armors of the movie’s Imperial troopers.

I think back to ‘Space 1999’, the old-timey sci-fi TV show in which the moon (and the occupants of a futuristic base on its surface) were thrown out of orbit and sent flying into space. (Again, white plastic and clean shapes everywhere.)

I think back to “2001, a Space Odyssey” (mentioned in the article), and another Kubrick film: “A Clockwork Orange”, which also made use of the color white in a number of ways, from the gang’s clothing to the lifelike statues in the milk bar.

Plain white and clean, simplistic lines take me back to the heyday of posh science-fiction, when silver suits and giant foreheads gave way to shag rugs and space-walking go-go boots.

When white was powerful and modern and clean.

Think ‘Barbarella’.

Think ‘Space 1999’

But it could just as easily have been born somewhere between the shower and the sink, and that’s one of the questions raised by the article: How does a product’s design language fit in with conventions? With perceptions?

Aside from this – my latest unfortunate tangent – this is an article you should all read, because it does a very good job of putting the often overlooked role of design language and brand language in context with a product’s eventual success in the market.

An exerpt: “…the most common failure of products is not that they failto communicate, but they communicate the wrong message.”


Here’s another: “changes in the design of the modern kitchen had been brought about “by two things that had nothing to do with cooking a meal- the automobile and the airplane.”

Seriously. Read it, save it, copy it, and spread it around. This is good stuff.