Steve Jobs, designer

I’ve long held the belief that you should not idolize people. Being inspired by people is a lot more productive, whereas simply putting people on a pedestal and admiring them from afar accomplishes little more than replacing your ideas with theirs.

That’s why there is so much more value in understanding what Steve Jobs did, rather than idolizing him as an über-genius. I think Jobs died with a clear conscience, I believe he’s made his mark and was able to go into the great unknown able to say “my work will go on”.

To me, Steve Jobs was a designer.

He was a great businessman, for sure, but his thought was design thought and that, to me, was central to the evolution he brought to the world of personal electronics. And that evolution I see summed up in one product: the iPod.

I believe the iPod is the single most important product in Apple’s line-up under Jobs. It is the DNA of the new Apple. It could be the iMac, but that was just a computer in a good looking case. Sure, it made people show off their machines, rather than wanting to hide them in a cabinet, but the iPod did so much more.

An iPod was incredibly simple and spartan. It never offered all the features (top of the line, modern iPods still don’t allow you to manage music directly and have no removable media, for exemple), it was compact, it was sleek and looked like a luxury product. Even the box it came in, was a pleasure to open and you felt like you should keep it on display.

People wanted to have an iPod and when they did, they loved it. It worked all the time, it was dead easy to learn how to use, you did not have to RTFM and it had character with its Stormtrooper-white casing.

This is why I think design, not technology, is central to Apple. The technology is really important to the product development and to make sure it’s high quality, stable, innovative and reliable but it matters almost nothing to the user. To the user, the important thing is the experience: you take something out of a box, which looks great, feels like it belongs in your hand and works when you turn it on.

This is why most iPhone users don’t care or won’t know what processor speed or how much RAM is in their phones, this is why most of them will shrug when someone points out that some other phone’s camera has a lot more megapixels and just say “yeah, but I prefer my iPhone”. People are in love with the experience of the iPhone, the iPad, the iPod… not the specs.

This is Steve’s most important legacy: make products you want to use. Products that do things you’ll want to do. Products that look beautiful and feel great in your hands and are easy to use. Focus on the people, not the technology.

Don’t start from the hardware, don’t pile up the features. Start with you: what do you want? What do the people around you want, or might like? It’s not the “we have this, what do we do with it” mentality, it’s the “I want to accomplish this, how do I go about getting it?” mentality. It’s design.

In 1997, Apple launched its “Think Different” campaign. In my recent post about understanding design in day to day work, I mentioned this slogan. It’s interesting my immediate following post would mention it again. But I mention it once more for the same reason, because I want to reiterate: Goodbye and farewell, Steve Jobs, one of the greatest designers of our time, I leave you with the full text of the “Think Different” campaign posters:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.

The ones who see things differently.

They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

We make tools for these kinds of people.

While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Uncategorized Work

A new job

Early 2010 my boss started talking to me about the need to make some changes in the way our designers worked and were organized.

I helped out and got involved in the discussion at its early stages, taking the chance to jot down some long-held ideas about how things could be improved.

Around June, ideas began to crystallize and roles be defined. As it seemed more and more likely two teams would be formed, I was asked to head the smaller, senior team. It was, evidently, something I could not refuse.

I was given freedom to pick my team and did so trying to assemble a group of highly experienced professionals which were also heterogeneous enough to provide a versatile team.

Internally, we are the Innovation & Design Team, although the corporation sees us as the Normalization Team, which is OK, since we do have that role as well.

The second, larger team – the Web and Media Design Team, or, not by accident, the WMD Team – deals with most of the creative and technical Design jobs that are at the core of the day to day business at sapo.

I’ve barely even started at my new position but challenges abound. Not only do the four Designers working with me on the I&D team have brought their ongoing projects with them, but we were almost immediately offered the challenge of designing all communication and graphic materials for this year’s Codebits, hands down the most important event sapo organizes yearly.

During the whole process of forming the teams, defining their parts and responsibilities, planning out future work and starting to learn about management, I was myself put ‘under new management‘ with a big internal reshuffling of the deck. For the (much) better, I believe.

2010 has been, undoubtedly, an interesting year. I bought an apartment, had it remodeled, moved, got promoted with a chance to learn a new job and see things from a new perspective, got a new boss and, as interesting as all that is, nothing can come close to the truly remarkable event this year has brought me: my daughter was born.

So, as we approach the end of this agitated year, I feel as if the roller-coaster wagon is just reaching the very top of the highest peak in the track. Hold on, folks.


Firefox 3 almost out: get ready to beat a world record

FF3 is almost ready to come out with over 14 thousand improvements over FF2, already one of the best web browsers out there.

The community is aiming to attempt to beat a world record with this one: let’s make it the most downloaded software ever, in 24 hours. You can go to the Spread Firefox site right now and pledge your download; give them your e-mail address to receive a reminder when the download becomes available.


Science machine

Chad Pugh created an illustration for Vimeo, called “Science machine”. It’s a highly graphical representation of all sorts of science related themes and items: factories, offices, oceans, planets, animals, microbes, cells, skin, etc.

It’s all beautifully linked together in a vector-based layout made with Adobe Illustrator. The work was done over a period of several months, and Pugh reckons the total physical time spent drawing in Illustrator was about 40 hours, plus another 40 for concept and some more for getting it ready for printing.

To make it even more interesting, the artist had an application take screenshots of his computer, every five seconds, which resulted in a nearly 19 minute video of the entire process in time-lapse. There’s also an accelerated version, which I’ll embed for your viewing pleasure; if you prefer to watch the full 19-minute montage, it’s available on Vimeo.

Chad also sells prints of his amazing work, and you can check that out on his portfolio website. And now, with no further ado, here’s the time-lapse creation of “Science machine”.

Science Machine from Chad Pugh on Vimeo.



Design for life is now running WordPress 2.5, which looks quite nice.



I’ve been meaning to add a portfolio section to the site for quite sometime but I never had the patience to go look for a solution.

Now I finally did. I got the NextGEN Gallery WordPress plugin which was quite easy to install but also quite powerful. It’ll take me some time to feed all my work to the Gallery, but you can already take a peak at some stuff I’ve uploaded to test the plugin and get used to it.

Just click here or hit “portfolio” on the right navbar. You can also navigate directly to specific portfolio section such as ‘icons’ or ’emoticons’, as you can see.


Soon, I intend to add a sketch section as well.


Pissed-off frog

I understand a brand needs to be nice and ours certainly is. Emoticons, however, need to convey… well… emotion. So I have the pleasure of being allowed to make a completely pissed-off version of the frog mascot of SAPO.

Really, it’s criminal how much fun I have sometimes.

Pissed off


I took it…



Save icon


My new “save” icon. I’m not sure I’ll actually use it in the application, but… it’s done.