Design Isn't Decoration

I recently read an intriguing book titled Inside Steve’s Brain by Leander Kahney. It is a peek inside the mind of Steve Jobs, the innovative co-founder and leader of Apple, the revolutionary maker of such state-of-the-art products as the iMac, iPod and iPhone.

Part of what stood out to me about Jobs’ thinking is how intentional he is about design. Not design for design’s sake, but the overall process of designing a satisfying customer experience out of the box, which Jobs is personally involved with from start to finish.

I can still remember the sensory pleasure I experienced while opening my first purchase of an Apple product, a G4 PowerBook laptop. The box itself was so cool that I hesitated to cut the proof-of-purchase from it to send for the rebate I had coming to me.

As Kahney states in his book, “Jobs’ pursuit of excellence is the secret of Apple’s great design. For Jobs, design isn’t decoration. It’s not the surface appearance of a product. It’s not about the color or the stylistic details. For Jobs, design is the way the product works. Design is function, not form.”

It is no surprise to me why Apple is making such a comeback in the marketplace. Its breakthrough products represent much more than a pretty interface. Stuff from Apple not only looks better, but much more importantly, it also works better.