NOTE: Please take the time to watch the 2 minute video below before reading this blog post.
“You understand the nature of an object so much more when you understand how it came to be.”
- Jony Ive
Designed by Apple in California is a book that is, in itself, a true masterpiece of design.
The book is a tribute to Apple's design and innovation over the past two decades. It's a collection of photographs of some of Apple's most iconic products, from the original iMac to the first Apple Pencil.
The book is available in two sizes, and I decided to opt for the larger one. The larger version of the book measures 33 by 41 centimetres, while the smaller one is 26 by 32 centimetres. The larger version offers more space for the photographs to breathe, and it's simply more impressive when you hold it in your hands. It's a statement piece that demands attention and invites exploration.
I went to pick the book up from my local Apple Store in Norwich. When I arrived and told them what I was collecting, a swarm of Apple "Genius'" began to gather around. It soon became apparent that they'd seen my order arrive at the store and couldn't wait to look at it. It was only available for a very short period of time. and wasn't something that anyone else had ordered; I guess it's a niche product for those who are truly indulged with the company and the brand. When they handed over the book, they all politely asked if I'd open it in the store so everyone could see it. I spent a good hour or so in the Apple store, surrounded by people as enthusiastic as me, experiencing the pure beauty of this book.
Before you even get to the book, you encounter the packaging. Now, as I have mentioned in previous blog posts, Apple never disappoints when it comes to packaging. The Designed by Apple in California book was no exception. The initial part of the packaging is a sturdy box that keeps the book safe during transportation and storage. It is sealed with the typical Apple pull-strip, which is always a fun experience. Even the way that this box opens is, just, nice. There's no other way to explain it. You then come to the slipcase, which protects the exterior of the white book. This opens in an even more fun way, with two little interlocking tabs. When you open the slipcase, it reveals the graphics on its interior. The interior of the slipcase is covered in vector graphics of different Apple products, hinting at what you'll find once you begin to explore the book itself.
The book is printed on specially milled, custom-dyed, German paper with gilded matte silver edges. The attention to detail and craftsmanship that went into making this book shows Apple's ability to make high quality products in any form; not just technology.
As you start to flick through the pages, it really does capture "[points in time] of incredible transitions and quite shocking change". It tells so many stories of innovation, development and redesign. It takes you through the history of the products, and reminds you of where ideas came from, and how they've changed over the years. It also makes you notice where conscious decisions were made, and why they were made.
Not only does it tell stories of the products, but it also shows you how they were made. The book shows a variety of tools and processes that were designed in order to create the products; a completely different way of visualising the products themselves. As someone studying Product Design Engineering, this particularly appealed to me.
The thing that I like about the design of the pages is that they have no text. You're not distracted by any writing or information; you're drawn purely to the imagery. Apple included a pullout within the book, instead, which contains a short piece of information on each page. This was a great idea, in my opinion, and gives the user the space to explore the book and its imagery, and then turn to the pullout for additional information.
Apple has always been at the forefront of innovation and design, and their products have revolutionised the way we live and work. I think that, for many people (including myself), owning an Apple product is so much more than just owning a piece of technology; it's a symbol of their identity and a way of life. Apple products are sleek, elegant, and intuitive, and they inspire creativity and productivity. The Designed by Apple in California book captures this essence perfectly, and it's a beautiful tribute to the Apple's legacy of design and innovation.
The Designed by Apple in California book is an exceptional piece of design. It's a celebration of Apple's legacy of design and innovation, and a reminder of Apple's ability to make beautiful, high quality products; both from the book itself and the stories that it tells.
Hardware Design - 9 / 10
The book is beautifully constructed, using high quality materials and processes. It feels amazing. Both the book and the packaging feel high quality and bring worth to the not-so-small price tag that you have to meet in order to own the book. The way that the book's contents have been designed are also brilliant, with the use of the pullout to remove any potential distraction from the imagery. The only issue with the book is that it's white. Although this is one of its best aesthetic features, and one that is, in my opinion, absolutely essential, it also means the book can get dirty if gloves aren't worn, or hands aren't washed before use.
Usability - 10 / 10
The packaging is very easy to interactive with and open and close for storage. And, as for the book itself; It's a book.
Fun Factor - 8 / 10
The book itself is a fun product. It is a celebration of all things Apple, and all of the fun things that they've done in the past. The other thing that raises the fun factor, for me, is the slipcase. The reveal of the graphics as you open it adds another dimension to the storytelling; before you even turn a page of the book.
Innovation - 6 / 10
Like I said before, it's a book. I'm not sure how innovative you can be with a book... Maybe this is a sign that this rating category doesn't work for every product? But, I would say the idea behind the book, what it's doing and what it stands for is somewhat innovative; I haven't seen any other companies do a similar thing.
Aesthetic - 10 / 10
The book is stunning. It truly is. From the materials used, to its composition, the book is beautifully designed. The images tell so many stories, and the lack of text on the pages was a brilliant, aesthetic decision. The use of white throughout the book also encourages you to look at the imagery, rather than any background colouring or images. The slipcase is also great to look at ands interact with. Apple has put so much thought into every detail of the aesthetic of this book, from start to finish.
TOTAL - 8.6 / 10
Hmm... Innovation has made it take a bit of a hit there...
TOTAL - 9.25 / 10