Stephen Fry on design

Our favourite savant, Stephen Fry, has a soft spot for smartphones. In his own words: “I’ve never seen a smartphone I haven’t bought”.

On his blog he discusses in typical Fry-style, his history with smartphones which started in 1991 with the now positively prehistoric looking Psion 3 up until the iPhone of today.

An outspoken fan of almost all things Mac, he takes a swipe at the lack of creative design in the smartphone industry, especially in devices designed for Windows Mobile.

“To say “well my WinMob device does all that your iPhone can do” is like saying my Barratt home has got the same number of bedrooms as your Georgian watermill, it’s got a kitchen too, and a bathroom.” … I accept that price is an issue here; if budget is a consideration then you’ll have to forgive me, I’m writing from the privileged position of being able to indulge my taste for these objects. But who can deny that design really matters? Or that good design need not be more expensive? We spend our lives inside the virtual environment of digital platforms – why should a faceless, graceless, styleless nerd or a greedy hog of a corporate t**t deny us simplicity, beauty, grace, fun, sexiness, delight, imagination and creative energy in our digital lives? And why should Apple be the only company that sees that? Why don’t the other b******s GET IT??

He does point out to Steve Jobs that the lack of a keyboard on the iPhone is a drawback as it makes entering long texts uncomfortable.

“It’s an example perhaps of ideology overcoming practicality, as in the early days of the single click mouse.”

This of course is always a fine balance, both in product design and in graphic design. The most fabulous design can look great but actually make the end product less effective. The right design is the one that finds the perfect balance between looking great and functionality.

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