+353 — (0) 51 348 343

+353 — (0) 87 299 3535

21st Febuary 2018


Keith Flynn is the author of this blog and Creative Director of Trademark Studio.


The Trademark studio blog directory is filled with intresting notes, stories and helpfull information helping business understand the value of investing in problems and how a well implemented design progra can generate the right kind of exposure for the intended audience. 


Apple Macbook Pro




The goal of industrial design is to standardize objects for mass production that is intended for consumption by society. Having evaluated an object in comparison to it predecessor, objects are redesigned to make them more accessible, desirable, affordable and obsolete.  Specific cultural contexts such as belief and value play an important roll in what gets made and what doesn’t.


“After 100 years of experiments in form and content, design now explores the context of social, cultural, political, etc. Because the results of such work do not coalesce into a unified formal argument and because they defy conventional working models and processes, it may not be apparent that the diversity of forms unleashed may determine the direction of design for the next century”.(Blauvelt, 2008)


The apple MacBook is a perfect example and physical manifestation of modernist intention. Its simple unobtrusive design and reliable operating system are only two of many reasons why architects, designers, film and music producers choose the Mac to work on. Jonathan Ive of Apple has taken an already desirable product and made it even more desirable by improving it in every way possible. In theoretical terms quantum physics says that all tangible objects are filled with empty space, to make use of this space will either reduce the physical size of the object or make it more functional. With the case of the MacBook the interior has a considered design that adds functionality, which breeds desirability. In a world where time is money functionality is something that creative professionals value very much. Everything we use has been intentionally designed one way or another. They are objects that are new versions of themselves in almost every aspect. For example a new radio will serve the same function as an old radio but its new aesthetic design can seduce and its price can imply quality therefore trust. Design needs to fill these requirements if design is going to be successful.



“Design is about how something works, not just how it looks. Its what’s inside that counts. The best designs are the result of someone’s questioning everything around them(Dyson, 2001)

Design principles grew from practical requirements of society. One of the great modernist principles of design: cleanliness, is valued to such a degree that more compact objects are designed to imply simplicity and mobility. Here design is serving a modern society for example by enabling people to be in the office when out of the office. One of the objects at the moment that exudes the 10 design principles of Dieter Rams and appeals to the values of modern society is the Apple MacBook.

“I am always fascinated when I see the latest Apple products. Apple has managed to achieve what I never achieved: using the power of their products to persuade people to queue to buy them.” (Rams, 2007)



Main Body


The man behind the design and concept of the MacBook Pro is Jonathan Ive who is now the Senior Vice President of Design at apple. He is responsible for the design of the MacBook Pro, iMac, MacBook Air, iPod, iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini and iOS7 (human Interface software). Jonathan Ive’s approach to design and a materials function has created some of the most desirable sculpted products on the market today. With an obsessive understanding of Apples product manufacturing processes he has “set the course not just for Apple but for design more broadly.”(Fortune magazine, 2010)



Jonathan studied industrial design at Newcastle Polytechnic before he joined a London design startup called Tangerine. He was greatly influenced by the work and principles of Dieter Rams who was the chief designer at Braun at the time. “Apple is one of only a handful of companies existing today that design products according to the ten principles of good design.”(Rams, 2009)



Jonathan Ive wanted to create objects that he himself would want. The Apple Macbook Pro was designed to be desirable and these desires happen to fall into the same slots as modernist principles. The product is desirable because it is functional, clean, accessible, modest, simple, trustworthy and progressive. All the codes an average person might value are present in the conception and execution of the MacBook Pro. Just from the aesthetic design alone one can tell a lot about the people behind it and what their vision of the future might be. This vision according to Apple is one of an achievable utopian society. An environment filled with clean sexy lines, meaning of materials, color and thoughtful functionality in all areas of life. What interests Apple is the convergence of the consumer to object. “An object exists at the meeting of technology and people. As designers we not only influence the nature of that meeting but by creating something physical we have a potent and immediate means of communicating the identity and very meaning of an object” (Ive, 2001)



The aesthetic, interaction and internal fixture design is fashioned with the intention of eliminating inessential accents therefore rendering the product functional in more ways than have been considered by designers in the past. This approach to the reduced “undesigned” quality of the product again echoes modernist principles but in areas of design that the original godfathers of modernism would appreciate but not understand. The world has changed to such a degree since 1920 with the new discovery of materials and processes. When redesigning the MacBook Pro Jonathan Ive says  “It wasn’t the design of a physical thing that dictated the functionality of the MacBook, it was defined by the processes used to create it” (Ive, 2009)



When comparing design from the early modernists to the design of today although the principles are almost exactly the same the visual aesthetic has changed to almost an unrecognizable degree. The “machine aesthetic” was still trying to hard to grab and hold our attention. Gone are the large art deco curves and the bulky woodstained appeal all vying to exude elegance and class. Little thought was given to internal space, functional design and ergonomics. The empty space inside a radios housing would not have been taken into consideration or its components or how will the user interact with the product. These things were not taken into consideration because they were not seen as valuable to the consumer.



Each new model may have exhibited only superficial modifications over the last, but these changes were the visual trappings of progress desired by consumers and they kept the company’s sales high. (Whittley, 1987)



The zeitgeist that typified 1950’s western society resonated the buzzwords of the “jet age”. Progression, efficiency was the visual rhetoric with a preoccupation to “build in” style obsolescence into objects. And again in contrast to todays design principles obsolescence is still very prevalent. In particular with the smaller Apple mobile products such as the ipod, iphone and the ipad all have excessively poor battery longevity. Also the battery unit cannot be removed from these products.



From a consumers perspective in order to solve this problem one would need to either return the product back to apple for repair or purchase a new updated version of the product. We’re accustomed to planned obsolescence. New models come out every year—faster, shinier and just plain better. But before the iPhone, cell phones without user-replaceable batteries were almost unheard of. Apple realized that they could sell more phones if they built the phone with an integrated battery; prompting users to upgrade once the battery wore down. (Kyle, 2011)



With the reduced, undesigned, modest, stripped back aesthetic of new objects vomiting themselves into the marketplace its becoming more difficult to understand what a particular products function is simply by looking at it. For example a doorstopper has to look like it does because the design of a doorstopper is based on its function. A 1920’s modernist could look at an iPod and not ever guess what the object does. Just by looking at a doorstopper you can immediately tell what its function is. This “analogue” object cant be improved functionally by adding or taken away parts, it does its job very well as it is. Form follows function is a paramount law in modernism and looking around at the saturation of new objects, redesigned objects, unnecessary objects that we use, their design are so minimal that form doesn’t follow function here as well as for instance a cup.  With continually new emerging ideas focused on functionalism such as infographics, ergonomics, transportation, communication, packaging and many more modernism is still giving birth to new concepts that are readily accepted by society.



Applying functional elements to a design is generally a more objective process than applying aesthetic elements. A functionally objective process results in designs that are timeless but may be perceived as simple and uninteresting.(Bradly, 2010)



The use of honest simple lines in aesthetics emanates a calm, trustworthy sense that is valued by everyone to some degree and evokes feelings of security. Wabi is an old Japanese word of which there is no English equivalent that was concerned with simplicity, cleanliness, and uncomplicatedness. It is associated with anything that evokes a feeling of reassurance, contentment and serenity much like a smooth weathered stone or minimal clean lines or curves that are again echoed in the Macbook.

Paradise does not exist on an obscure beach on a remote Thai island, seven thousand miles away, but it is also just down the road.(Thompson, 2008) 



Why are Apple products so desirable if obsolescence is still frequent in their products? With an obsessive considered solution to manufacturing processes, not only did Apple create the MacBook but also a list of other highly sought after products. They all followed the same social parameters of people’s values that were discovered not created by Apple.  Jonathan Ive and his team’s outlook on society’s necessity toward functionalism and their desire to purchase an esthetic experience are inherent in these products. In abstraction and empathy Wilhelm Worringer examines such values from a psychological perspective: “The determinant lay, he believed, in those values which the society in question was lacking, for it would love in art whatever it did not possess in sufficient supply within its self” (Worringer, 1953)





Our world today has inherited the gifts of the aesthetic experience from the original modernists of the early 1900’s. An appreciation of simplicity, functionality, cleanness, accessibility and progress are some to name a few. These principles Represents modernist intentions that can be applied to anything from structures, literature, art and objects, but to suggest that something has been inherited suggests that it still exists. It would be easy to accept that modernism might not still exist because the materials and methods we use today have changed so much over the last hundred years, and what was necessary then my not be necessary now.



The modernist movement may have lost its momentum and retired as a humble oracle that has survived through all the ism’s, endured the gimmicks, fought the Nazis and manipulated consumer culture. An artistic movement is not a tangible thing to buy into, we either believe or not. “Isms are not solid, monolithic blocks. They are constantly formed, transformed and reformed throughout their lifespans by way of unceasing negotiations” (Fallan, 2004)



The fundamental roll of a designer is to improve an object for whatever reason and the choices that he will make in creating an object are influenced by what he believes to be practical. It’s impractical to be dysfunctional, unclean, inaccessible and unprogressive in any area of life, so to choose the antithesis is to choose modernism.



Maybe there are people that don’t want clean water or air for their children, or a functional safe environment to nurture their young. The very suggestion of these values when compared to civilized society is proof that modernism has never retired, that to believe in a new “crystalline world” for generations to come and the strength of that value is modernisms legacy. “The legacy of Modernism remains here, seen in our widespread acceptance of the positive benefit of integrating art and life, as well as in our belief in the power of art and design to create new models for living. In this way, much of the new world envisioned and designed by the Modernists continues to exist to this day” (Corcoran, 2008)



Please contact us to know more
or talk about your next project.

P: +353 (0) 51 348 343

M: +353 (0) 87 299 3535

E: keith@trademarkstudio.ie

©2018 — Trademark Studio™