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I have just finished re-reading Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield for maybe the third time. Somewhat melodramatic, I’ll grant you, a bit heavy on unlikely coincidences and enough pathos for about five novels, but what wonderful writing and what characters. A classic.

It got me thinking about other “classics” a word that’s bandied around a lot. Classic books, classic movies, classic cars &c. &c. and so on… and, of course, classic product design.

A Google image search for classic product design brought up this:


Of course, Google searches depend a lot on the text in the web page in question but it still brought up a lot of the Usual Suspects, mixed in with some pieces – USB thumb drive? – that I think no-one would be in a hurry to label “classic”.

The biggest surprise for me was how far down the page I had to scroll before anything connected with Apple turned up… a picture of Jonathan Ive!

I am no fanboi; I think the design of many Apple products is wonderful and I started out on a Mac clone and found the move to Windows almost traumatic at first. However, for reasons connected with the software we use here at Envision and timing when I changed over to a smartphone, I presently use a Windows PC and Android phone.

But I have no doubt that the most recent genuine product design classics, over the clamour of appeals by Dyson fans, are the original iPod and iPod Touch/original iPhone. I like to walk around taking in the environment and hearing snatches of overheard conversation, so spending all day listening to iPod music on headphones is unthinkable for me and, when the iPhone came out, it didn’t appeal to me as a product to use but… I wanted to buy both of them just to have. Budgetary restraints prevented me from doing anything so daft but I think that is one of the tests of a real design classic: the desire to own it and have it close by you.

Can Envision ever design a classic? I hope so but it’s a tall order: besides great looks and being a pleasure to use it must have that essence of desirability, the feeling that you want it around you all the time because previous products no longer measure up.

Sounds like Life Changing Design to me.

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