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Published on March 9th, 2011 | by Richard Hunt

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Design is in the details

Design Is How It WorksDesign Is How It Works by Jonathan R. Greene

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Certainly business books like this come pre-packaged with a distinct POV (which usually—hopefully–is clear in the title). So no Sherlock skills are necessary to know that this book showcases B2C companies which have thrived because the design of their products is both appealing and hews to the form follows function value.

A fair amount of this book is comprised of the usual suspects: Nike, Porsche, Virgin. Steve Jobs and Apple pop up often enough in the text to be the MC for the evening (it is a quick read). The author’s primary point is that these companies have succeeded because design is tied to consumers’ usage. He argues compellingly that design is both central to the creative and manufacturing process as well as the determining factor in win/lose. Overall, though, the selection is a fair one…and you probably could come up with another group on your own, like this: Patagonia, Levi, Salsa Cycles, Icebreaker Clothing. As this second list reflects, maybe experiential R&D is more important for outdoor products than maybe kitchen fixtures or lawn mowers; because if it doesn’t hold up in the wilderness, you can quickly become lost, hurt or MIA.

What I enjoyed the most about were the chapters on REI and Clif Bar, once again, because they are near and dear to the outdoor marketplace, adrenaline enthusiasts and our books. In both cases, hands-on in-the-field development pushes their product design, not a graphic designer perched at a Mac. They’re both brilliant operations and it’s good to see them get time in the spotlight.

The big plus was the profile of Ace Hotels, which I hadn’t heard of before, but after reading this, I was so intrigued that I stayed there last week when in Seattle…and it was perfect. Clean, contemporary, and a nice cross between a hostel and a hotel…soft on the wallet, long on vibe. When not bunking on someone’s couch, Ace is definitely my first choice for overnights.

View all my reviews


About the Author

is the resident stevedore, believer, and customer-client-partner service guru at Keen Communications. If you really need to reach Richard, you'd better strap on a helmet and pedal fast, as he's most often found on his bike tackling the hills and trails around Ohio.



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