Interface: people, machines, design. Powerhouse Museum exhibition, 15 Aug 2014 – 11 Oct 2015.
Running till early October the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney has an interesting and insightful exhibition looking at information technology through the years, and the design pioneers who have been integral to revolutionising this sector.
The exhibition looks at what we take for granted today, that is the application of design to information technology products and how design has played a huge role in simplifying technology and making it appealing and easy to use.
The selection of companies showcased is no real surprise, the visionaries being Apple, Braun and Olivetti, but of real interest here isthe comparison of products such as the Braun T1000 Receiver(1963) and the Apple Power Mac G5 (2004). These blatant comparisons throughout the exhibition highlight the inspiration and the ideas that designers have adapted to create the next generation of consumer products.
See the very first device designed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak – the blue box. This was technology that allowed you to hack into the in-band signalling giving free long- distance calls anywhere in the world. This taught Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak the power of ideas, without which there would be no Apple today.
I highly recommend taking a walk through memory lane and seeing this exhibition. Some products will make you laugh seeing how technology started. Other products will make you drool – well, that’s if you’re into old typewriters and telephones like me! If nothing else, it’s an interesting history of Apple.
A few things to think about that really resonated with me, and that I took away from the exhibition were:
“Steve wanted Apple to be to the 1980s what Olivetti was to the 1970s: an undisputed leader in industrial design.” (Ken Campbell, Co-designer of the Apple Lisa. Quote from Kunkel’s AppleDesign published by Graphis Inc).
“Form follows emotion.” (Hartmut Essinger, Frog Design founder and Co-CEO). I like the idea of this as a bit of a rival to the argument of “Form follows function.”
The other: “He associated simplicity with progress.”* I think this is an interesting way to look at the importance of simplicity in design, which is still relevant and very current in design trends.
*Taken from the exhibition in reference to an earthenware vase by Christopher Dresser, approx.1880. Dresser’s art was imbued with a healthy respect for scientific progress and the new machine age.