One designer went and redesigned the cheese-grater Mac Pro

You’ve got to admit, whether you like or dislike the Mac Pro 2019, there’s no ignoring it. Especially if you’re from the design community. As a designer (turned writer) myself, here’s a couple of things I’ve learnt the hard way. There’s a general air of designers “knowing what they’re doing”. I’m just as complicit, when I defend my design to a client, or to a marketing team. Sometimes criticism, even if its constructive, can often deliver a slight blow to our ego, which comes from the philosophy that designers make the world a better place. Another very strong behavior that I’ve tried hard to unlearn is the fact that designers tend to look at everything through the lens of a designer… which means everything is a potential redesign project. With my negative feedback of the Mac Pro’s “disgusting” grille, I, for a second, became that person. I still think that Jony could do better (or different), but hey, he operates in a world of unlimited potential, zero constraints, and zero answerability (a part of me is jealous too, yes). My appreciation (or the lack of appreciation) has zero bearing on Ive’s strangely secretive design process. That being said, feedback for the Mac Pro has been extremely divisive, and Hasan Kaymak’s put together a design that he believes captures everything good about the Mac Pro’s 2006 and 2013 editions.

Hasan’s Mac Pro 2020 doesn’t deviate from the silhouette of the 2019 Mac Pro. In fact it embraces it, and comes in the 2013 Mac Pro’s black color, giving us the best of both worlds. The most noticeable change is the absence of the dual-side CNC machined grille detail, which Hasan replaced with a much more traditional slot and mesh. While the revised design detail isn’t particularly eye-catching, it plays it safe… and considering the grille never really faces the user, a relatively normal design detail seems like a fairly logical way to go. Besides, playing it safe would also bring down the relative cost of the Mac Pro by a couple of hundred bucks (given that you don’t have to have a complex CNC machining task), making it slightly less of a pocket pincher. On the opposite side of the grille, Hasan’s added 8 USB-C ports, for connecting all sorts of devices, from hubs, to the iPad Pro, to any other compatible devices you may have. Two audio jacks also sit right above the ports for good measure.

Another design detail change is the vault-lock mechanism on the top of the Mac Pro, which seems absent in Hasan’s concept. Rather than corrupting a clean surface with a fairly large clamp and handle, Hasan goes for something much more discreet, allowing you to simply remove the upper body by pressing down on the stainless steel rods on the top.

The redesign touches upon a common public sentiment, that the Mac Pro doesn’t need to be outright revolutionary. Unlike the iMac or any of the laptops, Mac Pros usually either sit behind monitors, or under tables, or even in render farms. As a device, the Mac Pro has always aimed to look beautiful, but its intent has always been to be functional first… especially given that people are shelling out large sums of money not for looks, but for raw computing power. It doesn’t need to be made using a complex, thick, two-way machined aluminum grille. But hey, who am I to express distaste? I’m just a guy who uses WordPress on a Windows laptop.

Designer: Hasan Kaymak

Former Gmail designer builds Chrome extension to declutter your inbox

Despite Google's attempts to improve Gmail, the web version remains hectic and cluttered. While that might be frustrating to users, it's especially irritating for Michael Leggett, one of Gmail's former lead designers. Finally fed up, Leggett launched...

Uber Eats improves order tracking so you can see where your pizza is

Uber Eats is rolling out a redesign and new features to help you track your meal from the second you tap the order button until it's on your plate or in front of you in the container (no judgment here). Improved tracking will help you monitor the who...

Twitter design test brings Explore and Bookmarks to the web

Twitter is testing a redesign that brings some features from its mobile app and browser to the desktop. The trial run, which the company says a small number of people are already seeing, adds the Explore tab and Bookmarks to the desktop site, along w...

IKEA subtly redesigns its products for each country/culture

ikea_countries_layout

With its first Indian store launching only a day ago, IKEA proved that it understands its consumers and environment better than any other company in its industry.

Allegedly, IKEA has been planning to open its flagship store in India for years now (I remember getting wind of it as long as 5 years ago). Now that the store is finally up and running, there’s one thing worth noticing and appreciating. In every country that IKEA runs its business, the catalog stays true to the company’s signature low-cost, DIY business model, but differs distinctly in terms of flavor. IKEA invests a lot of time, energy, and money, in understanding the country’s climate, its users, their mindsets, cultural quirks, and socio-economic background. Using that data, IKEA subtly redesigns their products to serve their users better, often pandering to their sense of style, budget, and even taking care of climatic requirements to ensure their products last longer than intended.

An article by Fast Company talks about how IKEA prioritizes user needs more than anything else, successfully differentiating between an American consumer, an Indian consumer, and a Japanese one, based on a variety of factors. With India, for instance, IKEA does away with the pine-wood construction it uses in more cooler climates (like in European countries). Pine cannot withstand the heat and humidity of India’s tropical climate, and IKEA’s furniture had to be tweaked to use a wood more durable for India. In a country as dusty as India, houses are cleaned every day with water. The furniture in the Indian catalog come with their own rubber risers so that the wood doesn’t come in contact with water. Kitchen counters are also redesigned keeping in mind the shorter frame of the Indian woman, be it the woman/wife of the house or the hired help. To accommodate for India’s small houses, burgeoning population, and the resulting cramped lifestyle, IKEA introduced a larger range of collapsible, stackable, and foldable furniture that can easily be stowed away when not in use. This furniture also serves its purpose when guests gather at your place for social occasions. IKEA also is reportedly using solar-powered rickshaws (an icon of public transportation in India) to deliver their products to the doors of consumers, therefore embracing the culture while forwarding the brand.

ikea_countries_1
The Ekedalen table can be extended to accommodate more people

ikea_countries_2
The fleet of solar-powered rickshaws that will deliver items to the 6.8 million residents of Hyderabad

Similarly, for the Chinese market, IKEA showcased an entire section on balconies, an important part in Chinese homes. Showrooms in southern China showcased balconies with clothes-hanging apparatuses, while showrooms in northern China used balconies as areas for food storage, therefore highlighting the importance of cultural relevance while moving from country to country and region to region. As far as beds are concerned, IKEA’s a perfect example of understanding the socio-cultural implications of the countries implications of the countries it’s in. Korean beds are smaller, for small homes. American beds are showcased in king and queen sizes, while the rest of the world uses centimeters as a measuring format, and for its Indian market, IKEA showcased a bedroom with a smaller bed for youngsters because parents and children usually share a bedroom in middle-class Indian homes. In the kitchen, IKEA stocks far more rice cookers and chopsticks in its Asian markets, while the Indian kitchen showrooms don’t include knives as a part of the cutlery set since Indians usually use spoons at the table when they’re not using their hands to consume food. A rather bewildering spike in flower-vase sales in America had top executives confused until they realized that Americans were using them to drink out of, since the Swedish drinking glasses were too small for America’s ‘grande’ and ‘venti’ way of living. In every aspect of lifestyle, IKEA’s research has resulted in much more relevant products. Even their food-courts have food that’s much more in tune with the country’s culture and tastes.

ikea_countries_3
IKEA’s food is culturally relevant. Asian cuisines feature rice as a staple, while Middle Eastern IKEA branches serve Halal meats

What’s ingenious on IKEA’s part is that while they beautifully absorb some of the country’s cultures into their catalog, they still manage to forward their brand. IKEA’s catalogs change from country to country, continent to continent, but the store almost always looks the same. A large blue warehouse with the big, bold, yellow and blue logo on the outside is almost an icon of IKEA and is pretty much synonymous with “good furniture beyond this point”, no matter where you are. It also sticks to its universal style of nomenclature, using Swedish names for its products, and inevitably creating a beautiful fusion between what IKEA originally started out as, and the country in which it’s located… a fusion of global and local.

It’s rare to see a company so invested in user research, especially in the fashion/lifestyle/decor industry. Surrounded by competitors that spend time designing products with a one-shoe-fits-all business model, it’s refreshing that a company like IKEA spends so much time, effort, and money in ‘getting it right’. Explains why it remains such an undefeatable force in the furniture and home decor industry!

Source: Fast Company