Category Archives: Design

As we settle in to the chaos of around 30,000 people gathering into Austin’s tiny downtown area… just as we get comfy, and snug as a bug in the bed, so comes the rain! Now we have a jumble of umbrellas stabbing at us as we jump puddles and sprint from building to building. Seriously, Austin… you’ve got a road problem with all these puddles! The downpour hasn’t dampened spirits nor stalled the food trucks, though, so all is good.

We're SXSX stars, bitches!

We’re SXSX stars, bitches!

On Day 2, we attended sessions, hid out in the PayPal lounge to charge our gadgets and recharge our minds, and hit up with friends to share tips on how to actually get into the “hot” sessions and trending parties. A lot of chatter erupted around Julian Assange’s Skype-cast from his mancave in the Ecuadorian embassy. It seems like the hipsterati wasn’t too impressed with what he had to say.

We decided to catch Julian on a web stream instead of waiting in line to get in, and instead, hit some of the design sessions. Most of those focused on “next gen responsive” design strategies for supporting the myriad of screens we’re faced with everyday. The consensus was that basically if you’re a content designer nowadays, you’re pretty much screwed! From big screens/billboard to wearable devices you gotta make your content work everywhere. Whew! Good luck. And you’ll need to take a few classes to up-level your skills. Although Google is screaming about the “post-mobile world”, most of what we were hearing was people still struggling with 1990s style websites. So maybe it’s not as bad as everyone thinks.

One of the best speakers of the day was by Kristina Halvorson, a content strategist. She begged and pleaded with today’s marketing folks to stop firehosing us with meaningless jargon and to really, really, please start focusing on what people really DO with brands. It was a refreshing rant to hear amidst a sea of “content marketing strategists”. She got a little Tweet-hate for it, but I’m glad she was so bold as to speak out against the status quo.

And yes, shortly after, we hit the Oreo “Trending Vending” machine to print us a fresh Oreo cookie! Viva Texas! Now, go away rain, the last thing you want in Austin is damp, smelly hipsters clogging the hotel lobbies!

Ikea announced today that they will partner with Marriott to create a new budget “hotel brand” based on their prefabricated furniture model. The hotels won’t include Ikea furniture, but instead will be built based on new construction methods that stress lower-cost materials. Prefabricated hotel rooms will be built in a central location and placed wherever needs arise. This is a similar model to what some retailers are doing with popup stores in areas that swarm with large groups of people for specific events. Kind of like what Apple did at SXSW during its iPad launch the electronic cigarettes — quickly create a popup store to sell items where people are gathered, and then take the store down after the event is over.

Popup hotels could be quickly assembled in areas where events bring large amounts of people together. Even here in Austin right now, it’s virtually impossible to get a hotel room, and if you do, it’s easily $400 a night. Popup hotels could offer some relief to the need for rooms, and will attract a younger, more budget-conscious traveler.

Ikea and Marriott will launch their first popup hotel in Milan this year.

I am admittedly immersed in the Apple ecosystem. Everytime I try to climb out (buying Win 8 products or a Chromebook), I still get sucked back in. One of the things I can’t stand about Apple’s current GUI on their OS and iOS is the use of skeumorphism.

In a nutshell, skeumorphism is taking something digital and making it look like paper. For instance, the Notes app is designed to look like a yellow legal pad written upon with a black marker. The iCal app has “leather-bound” edges. Apple’s Address Book looks like, well, an old-fashioned address book.

Image from apple.com

Wired.com points out today that Apple is on a hiring spree. With Steve Jobs gone and Scott Forstall ousted, we’re entering a new era of design under Jony Ives.

“The early days of Buy Levitra the Mac, the iPhone and the iPad perhaps necessitated skeumorphic design to acclimate users to new apps and programs that accomplished tasks in new ways. But it’s no longer needed. The concept of the desktop and the graphical user interface isn’t foreign anymore. We’re grown comfortable with the swipes, double taps and myriad other gestures that can dismiss applications or open up shortcuts in the blink of an eye.”

Apple is hiring senior software engineers to help re-imagine the graphical user interface, someone to develop new APIs and frameworks (iOS) and even someone to help give Siri a personality.

Brilliant design doesn’t happen overnight but here’s hoping, infused with new ideas and creative energy, Apple can eventually move away from the skeumorphism that looks to the past and moves into the clean lines and gesture-based design of the future.