DESIGN: Me, Myself and i - The iMac took gold at the D&AD awards But just how good are these brightly coloured desk invaders. Jenny Watts asks four users.
By JENNY WATTS, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 11 June 1999 12:00AM
ROB SCOTT, Creative director, Claydon Heeley
ROB SCOTT, Creative director, Claydon Heeley
’Uncle Roddit, why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green?’
Kids clearly have a fixation with colour. But when did you hear a kid
ask: ’Why are all computers putty-coloured?’
’They just are,’ you would have answered. ’Now run along and see if you
can find Action Man’s private parts.’
But times are changing.
The computer now needs to look funky. It has as big a role in a child’s
life today as Multi Coloured Swap Shop had in our day. So welcome to the
age of the multi-coloured computer.
The iMac is not just a functional tool like your average computer. It’s
a state-of-the-art toy. A super-chic gizmo that doubles as a fashion
statement. A must-have accessory for those who want their computer to
co-ordinate with their wardrobe.
In short, it has absolutely no place in the lives of serious
professionals like ourselves. I mean, come on! An iMac is no match for a
studio G3 with a monitor the size of a small cinema screen.
And yet, and yet ...
Don’t clients expect ad agencies - creative departments in particular -
to look colourful and wacky?
In this politically correct era of the ’secretary-free’ office, don’t we
still need something good-looking perched on the corner of our
Agency scribblers need e-mail don’t they? Why, even art directors like
to show that they are semi-literate by typing out the occasional piece
of copy, however grammatically incorrect.
Let’s face it, we’re just overgrown fashion-conscious kids at heart.
You’ve probably already guessed this was typed on a corporately purple
iMac. Got to stay ahead of the game ...
JULIAN VIZARD and ALAN YOUNG - Joint creative directors, St Luke’s
Many creative people pursue pencils with the same maniacal commitment
with which Dennis Nilsen collected bones. Passions run high and debates
can end in physical violence.
Fearing for our safety, we asked Gidon, our head of IT, to comment on
Apple’s big win.
He thought it richly deserved. Better than any ad-break blockbuster,
poncy jam-pot label or letterhead design.
Gidon has a point. Few reading this magazine will ever have an idea as
clever or as far-reaching as the iMac.
It solved a real problem by reviving Apple’s fortunes and slipping
ice-cubes down the vests of game designers who thought they could afford
to ignore the Mac.
It’s original. It’s not ’inspired’ by film-clips or some forgotten type
book. It’s one of those ideas that anyone could have had but no-one else
Computers can be fun - we’ve known that since we first typed A-R-S-E on
the BBC machines at school. But they’ve always looked about as funky as
a geography teacher.
So no more plastic blocks in putty hues. Instead, something you can
display in your home, like a sexy hi-fi or a retro-fridge. Shrink down
the iMac and you can imagine pinching a handfulfrom the pick ’n’ mix at
It’s not a case of form over function either, a dab of fresh lipstick on
a corpse (another practice favoured by Mr Nilsen). Gidon says iMac has
the power of most of our studio Macs.
Interestingly, iMac’s launch coincides with that of the equally cute new
Beetle. Both the original Apple Mac and VW were designed to democratise
technology. Perhaps that’s why they look so curvy and approachable.
Apple was better though, because it had nothing to do with Nazis.
Simplified, compact, easy to remove when you want to reclaim your desk
or dining table, we’re told iMac is selling 15 units a minute. The Apple
team have over-delivered on their brief ’to create a cheap computer from
the consumer market’, and are making massive in-roads into the business
We’ve got eight of them at St Luke’s and more are due in. Gidon tells us
that when the first one arrived everyone in the office cooed, aahed and
stroked it before it was even out of the box. ’I buy them because the
users like them,’ says Gidon with supposed impartiality, but we saw him
lovingly arranging five in a little circular cluster on a table near
reception - just like in the ads.
We think the ads are cool too. Just flirtatious little iMacs frolicking
in limbo. The frisky minxes.
We asked Gidon if secretly he’d like to have sex with an iMac. He says
he’d slip one a gold pencil anytime.
JAMIE ANLEY - JAM Design and Communications
It was like trading in a clapped out old banger for a new Peugeot 406.
When that day-glo box, masquerading as a funky new computer, burst onto
the scene and paraded cheekily under our noses, there was simply no
question of changing our allegiance.
After all, we accept computers are an integral part of our working
environment, but why should we make do with the benefits of good design
while compromising on aesthetics?
Our relationship with our computer is extremely intimate. When working
late, the grey box which hums innocuously in the corner might be
comforting in its predictability, but for far too long it has relied
purely on this function, not acknowledging its potential for visual
iMac’s triumph at D&AD rang in these changes and acknowledged that good
design has the ability to communicate. It is a great example of how
design has the ability to position a company ahead of its
I can remember a few years ago thinking how we should get coloured
cashmere pullovers made up for the office computers. After all, if
people can choose the colour of their cars why shouldn’t they choose the
colour of their computers? Talking of cars, that’s a great opportunity
for a joint venture; Peugeot could actually produce the bodies of the
next range of Apples, offering customised colouring ... matching your
I think the iMac’s gold award was well deserved, and not just because I
happened to be sitting next to the designer who collected the award -
and got to stroke his pencil!
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk
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