We've been blown away this summer by three new designs in our midst. Of the three, one is a cost-cutting change to an age old institution, one is a new technological marvel, and the other is a book with a plot that twists and turns right to the very last sentence. Each one we anticipated with worry, thinking we might be let down, and each one turned out surprising and delighted us anew...
The New York Times New Page Width
Just this week the Times shaved an inch and a half off of their page width after being the same old fatty for our entire life. Cost cutting? Absolutely. Good for the reader? We thought not, but were surprised that the new, less wide paper is easier to hold in our hands, easier to fold and much easier to read in crowded places like the subway or a tiny cafe. While we don't know if were losing news or total page real estate, this getting smaller feels much better.
The iPhone's Three-In-One Design
When Steve Job's introduced the iPhone at MacWorld, we thought for sure that the three-in-one feature rich design of the thing would be its undoing. After all, who really needs an iPod in their phone? We've already all got separate iPods anyway. And just from experiencing our Treo struggle with its small number of features for the past two years, we didn't think this new thing would fly. Having had an iPhone for three weeks now, we can honestly say that we're surprised with how damn well it works AND we're slowly using all the features. Turns out, its possible to integrate these things if your name is Apple, and it's sorta fun to have them on board.
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Surprise Ending
DON'T READ IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK!
While this isn't technically a "design" per se, we consider the structure of JK Rowling's books remarkably complex, layered and ultimately designed to communicate one overarching message: Love & Tolerance. Nowhere is this more in evidence and surprising (and it's real hard to be surprised when you've been reading these books for so long!) in her choice for Harry Potter's son's middle name: Severus. Even in the very last sentences, Rowling shoots us a zinger in planting the name of this most dark (but ultimately good) teacher and his affiliation with the house of Slytherin firmly within the Potter family tree. Her ability to go against expectation, tolerate those you want to hate, and never give up in her bid for inclusion of EVERYONE (but Voldemort, of course), is what make this story a classic.