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This is a somewhat narcissistic autobiographical story of the designer behind Steve Jobs, and surprisingly many others of Job’s ilk. In retrospect I should have felt more incredulity that one man could have been the lead designer on so many influential products in the second half of the 20th century. But I think it’s a pretty honest rendition.
Mixed in are his views on business strategy: 1) great design must be artistic, but it must be even more about the engineering, 2) great design is about the user (everyone says this, but few walk the walk), 3) great design should not mirror today’s market, but rather must be about what the market could be with 1 or 2 steps (but presumably not 10 steps), 4) globalization makes design more valuable while making much around it less valuable (globalization makes design more strategic in other ways too), 5) great design has always been manufacturing (few seem to remember this).
The book also includes a significant section on greening as an opportunity for designs. I remain unsure rather this section is deep or fashionable fluff.
The best part of the book was the analysis Chinese Manufacturing and Taiwanese Design (i.e., ODMs). He argues that the Chinese manufacturing is far more capable, especially more flexible, than western designers understand and that this gap in awareness is the source of a major shortfall in the potential of western design.
The biggest weakness of the book is that he presents an interesting thesis, namely that design has become one of the key pillars of business strategy, but never follows through with a forceful attempt to prove this thesis. Probably it was self evident to him, but it leaves the non-designer reader unsatisfied.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
Beyond the multiple self promotions of essinger's firm Frog design, and layers of "only the best" platitudes there is useful advice, Esslinger's firm has been instrumental in many super successful products(like Macintosh). I would have enjoyed it a bit more with the ego tempered a bit and the advice given with a true spirit of helping readers more that flacking for frog...Frog is great, we know that already that is why we bought the book.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful