Christian Long

Yves Behar: Designing Objects that Tell Stories

In TED Talks on April 9, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Reflection by VIVIAN H.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Yves Behar:  Designing Objects that Tell Stories

“All objects tell stories.”

Yves Behar ‘s notion of storytelling is an inspiring outlook, which appeals to the creative nature of many. However when applied to design I find these values a little too sentimental.

The basis for deign is to satisfy the consumer. Design is not like a work of art where it is complete when the individual artist is satisfied. In the field of design, a product is complete when the consumers, not the designer is satisfied. When choosing between various products the consumer will not take into account what the designer wanted to convey, but what is most beneficial for themselves and whether or not it is practical.

In his presentation Yves Behar mentions that he “wanted to take out all of the techie stuff, and just make it as beautiful as we can” while discussing the Jawbone headset. When beauty and commercial look is valued above the practical functions of a product, the desire to buy the product is immediately ended.  A designer should think in the perspective of the purchaser. While beauty does appeals to the eye, it does nothing for the function. In the instance of the Y bottles, the shape of the bottles seemed to take up large amounts of space making it fairly inconvenient for storage and less desirable than an actual toy.

Behar also discusses change and the evolution a product such as the computer undergoes. With the example of the Num Lock key he states “They didn’t want to change the legacy stuff; they didn’t want to change the insides.” I believe change is essential to any idea, to make room for improvement. Nevertheless, change does not necessarily have to be a complete alteration of the internal structures of a product. Take for example the ipod, the internal workings of an mp3 player had already existed before the ipod came out. By changing the face and look of the normal mp3 player to more user friendly terms, apple made the ipod iconic and therefore memorable as well as easy to use. Behar then goes on the say “They were really looking for us, the designers, to create the skins, to put some pretty stuff outside of the box. And I didn’t want to be a colorist.” In this statement he seems to overlook the importance of packaging as well as advertising in this statement, seeing as both these factors tie in closely with the design of a product.

Later on Behar delivers the line: “You know, they can be about function and beauty; they can be about business strategy. But designers are really the glue that brings these things together.” I believe this statement nicely sums up the balance between the practicality and outer appearance of a design.

During the last part of his presentation Behar introduced the idea that design could be used as an instrument to change the world. This idea seems a bit too much for me, but if it was possible I say why not?

Changing the world however depends quite a bit on motivation, not just the availability of the products, so in that sense how much impact can this really have? However I do like the emphasis Behar places on value. Value should affect quality, and that is what consumers look for in a product.

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