Steve Jobs wanted Macintosh design to be like the early Beatles

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Apple co-founder Steve Jobs wanted the Macintosh to be "like The Beatles," an award-winning designer from the team behind the device has claimed.

Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs
Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs



The National Design Awards took place on Thursday, recognizing excellence and innovation in the field. As part of the 2023 ceremony, held at the Smithsonian Design Museum in Manhattan, award winner Clement Mok offered an anecdote about his work with Steve Jobs at Apple.

When asked what his favorite design was, Mok offered to WWD that he was "most proud of the first child, which is the Macintosh, and then my most recent child [Sugarfish Sushi]."

Talking about the core Mac team, which he assisted via an affiliated design team, Mok and the other designers saw the design direction for the device as "Whatever Steve Jobs liked," with hundreds of design iterations performed on that belief.

"In a strange way, it was such an indoctrination about design for me as a practitioner," Mok added. "It was not about what it looks like." The "best way" to describe the concept was using a quote from Steve Jobs himself.

Jobs said "What I want is like The Beatles. It's the early Beatle, not the later Beatle," according to Mok. "We were like, Steve, we can't figure out what that means.' It was about having verve, energy, and soul."

Decades down the road, the ethos continues to persist, according to Mok. "When I talk to people from Apple and how they think about design, that core is still there. And you can't quite express it but their care about details and creating that experience and wow factor is making that emotional tug."

Mok also says Apple is "very much a fashion brand."

Mok received the award for Digital Design, and wasn't the only Apple-affiliated person to win. Arem Duplessis, a group creative director at Apple, picked up an award for Communication Design.

Read on AppleInsider

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    Yeah, yeah, yeah. 
    badmonkNoGodsNoMastersFileMakerFellerpscooter63jony0
  • Reply 2 of 21
    Beatles or Beetles?
    jevvimwilliamhBannedForFreeSpeechtyler82mattinozbyronl
  • Reply 3 of 21
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 1,146member
    Weird.

    That article has words in it, but they make absolutely no sense.
    macxpresswilliamlondondesignrmaltzM68000OferFileMakerFellerbyronlSpitbathjony0
  • Reply 4 of 21
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,838member
    Is this like, make the iMac look like a sunflower and we got the iMac G4 which BTW was a very cool and great looking Mac but overall was a poor iMac. The arm mechanism was a failure point on many of those. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 21
    Love, love me do, I wanna hold your hand, I feel Fine because I've got a ticket to ride
    sidricthevikingbyronlwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 21
    darkvader said:
    Weird.

    That article has words in it, but they make absolutely no sense.
    Glad I’m not the only one who thought that… 
    williamlondoneriamjhdarkvaderbyronlSpitbathjony0
  • Reply 7 of 21
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,354moderator
    macxpress said:
    Is this like, make the iMac look like a sunflower and we got the iMac G4 which BTW was a very cool and great looking Mac but overall was a poor iMac. The arm mechanism was a failure point on many of those. 
    Every Apple product has an iconic design that gives it an identity. This is clear when they are compared to PCs, Android tablets and phones.

    Think of a single PC or Android device that has an iconic design where it stands out from the crowd in a good way or sets the standard for other products. The PC and Android industry is a pile of unidentifiable, uninspired, insipid garbage.

    It baffles me how actually. Apple has been doing this for decades and they don't employ the only industrial designers in the world. I can only imagine that the other designers are working within tighter budget and time constraints and have different priorities.

    This is Apple's 'secret sauce' that is right out there in the open.
    williamlondonbaconstangBart YdewmeFileMakerFellerpscooter63byronlmacguiwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 8 of 21
    baconstangbaconstang Posts: 1,114member
    macxpress said:
    Is this like, make the iMac look like a sunflower and we got the iMac G4 which BTW was a very cool and great looking Mac but overall was a poor iMac. The arm mechanism was a failure point on many of those. 
    I had a G4 iMac for years, the arm was never a problem.  I guess YMMV.
    Accessing the inside WAS a problem...
    darkvaderpscooter63watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 9 of 21
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 2,035member
    Marvin said:
    macxpress said:
    Is this like, make the iMac look like a sunflower and we got the iMac G4 which BTW was a very cool and great looking Mac but overall was a poor iMac. The arm mechanism was a failure point on many of those. 
    Every Apple product has an iconic design that gives it an identity. This is clear when they are compared to PCs, Android tablets and phones.

    Think of a single PC or Android device that has an iconic design where it stands out from the crowd in a good way or sets the standard for other products. The PC and Android industry is a pile of unidentifiable, uninspired, insipid garbage.

    It baffles me how actually. Apple has been doing this for decades and they don't employ the only industrial designers in the world. I can only imagine that the other designers are working within tighter budget and time constraints and have different priorities.

    This is Apple's 'secret sauce' that is right out there in the open.
    That’s true. It’s amazing others haven’t figured that out. Likewise, it’s amazing nobody’s figured out the value of building hardware and operating systems exclusively for each other. It’s not like there haven’t been a few decades of opportunities to do that. 
    Bart Ywatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 21
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 3,596member
    Marlon Brando wanted to play a bagel in Superman the Movie. Google it.
  • Reply 11 of 21
    M68000M68000 Posts: 765member
    “Apple is very much a fashion brand” 

    ??????    What ?
    jony0
  • Reply 12 of 21
    Was the next big thing Bob Sinclair With the Ql or the Beatles with AT “personal computer” instead of the commodore portable home computer… no Rem that’s wasn’t just a dream  :D
    edited October 2023
  • Reply 13 of 21
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,661member
    Jobs wanted it to sell a lot for four years then break up?
    FileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 21
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,416member
    Marvin said:
    macxpress said:
    Is this like, make the iMac look like a sunflower and we got the iMac G4 which BTW was a very cool and great looking Mac but overall was a poor iMac. The arm mechanism was a failure point on many of those. 
    Every Apple product has an iconic design that gives it an identity. This is clear when they are compared to PCs, Android tablets and phones.

    Think of a single PC or Android device that has an iconic design where it stands out from the crowd in a good way or sets the standard for other products. The PC and Android industry is a pile of unidentifiable, uninspired, insipid garbage.

    It baffles me how actually. Apple has been doing this for decades and they don't employ the only industrial designers in the world. I can only imagine that the other designers are working within tighter budget and time constraints and have different priorities.

    This is Apple's 'secret sauce' that is right out there in the open.
    If you look up the definition of Empathic Design I think you will see that Steve Jobs’ approaches match a lot of the core principles of the empathic design approach. But the thing is, Steve Jobs never set out to follow any prescribed design approach, even empathic design. His natural way of looking at the world, people, and understanding how users feel about the products he was envisioning was baked into his way of getting things done. He never deviated from his empathic approach. The underlying technology and product implementation could still evolve, like finally embracing larger format phones, because it wasn’t only about what his personal feelings for a product were, it was about what his personal feelings for a product were when he was walking in the shoes of his customers who are experiencing that product for the first time or never knew such things were possible.

    The problem I’ve seen with the better companies that I’ve been associated with is that they try to emulate what everyone is saying is the right way to approach design, be it software or product design. However, when things that they’re trying to emulate do not produce the intended effect, perhaps because they really don’t “get it” or don’t have the required skills, they flip flop back to doing what they’ve always been doing or move on something else, usually with equally mediocre results. Chasing trends and what’s considered the next cool thing is very prevalent in product design. But putting on a doctors smock does not make you a doctor. 

    I wouldn’t go as far as saying all non-Apple products that compete against Apple are garbage. A lot of them are uninspired but still provide just enough value to be sellable and even desirable to large segments of the market. Such products may require sacrifices by their users to deal with the compromises their makers have designed into the products to make them attractive to the targeted segment of buyers. As long as the functionality, utility, and quality are deemed to be acceptable at their selling price people will buy them and live with the compromises. 

     Describing Apple as a “fashion brand” is in no way a knock on Apple and their designers. Apple very much cares about aesthetics and recognizes that Apple users feelings about their products is influenced by how the products look and feel in their hands and fit into their personal space. Delivering high levels of form and function in a personal product that becomes an extension of you and your environment is an incredible achievement. It always comes down to minimizing compromises and not settling, even when you could probably get away with less because you don’t think many people will notice, i.e., the back of the fence.



    Bart YFileMakerFellerpscooter63sphericjony0
  • Reply 15 of 21
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,838member
    macxpress said:
    Is this like, make the iMac look like a sunflower and we got the iMac G4 which BTW was a very cool and great looking Mac but overall was a poor iMac. The arm mechanism was a failure point on many of those. 
    I had a G4 iMac for years, the arm was never a problem.  I guess YMMV.
    Accessing the inside WAS a problem...
    It's also why the eMac was created because the iMac G4 wasn't durable enough for education use. Also price as well. The arm and LCD screen made the iMac quite expensive compared to its outgoing models which were priced as low a I think $699 at the time. 
    edited October 2023 watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 21
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,838member

    M68000 said:
    “Apple is very much a fashion brand” 

    ??????    What ?
    Apple is totally a fashion brand. Its designs speak for themselves as a fashion statement. Even a Mac sitting on a table is I'd say the most elegant looking computer on the market today. Every Mac looks high end now matter how expensive it is. 
    Bart YdewmeSpitbathwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 17 of 21
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 1,146member
    macxpress said:
    Is this like, make the iMac look like a sunflower and we got the iMac G4 which BTW was a very cool and great looking Mac but overall was a poor iMac. The arm mechanism was a failure point on many of those. 
    I had a G4 iMac for years, the arm was never a problem.  I guess YMMV.
    Accessing the inside WAS a problem...
    I still have one.  The arm is fine.  (Doesn't get moved much these days though, it's mostly a static display.)

    Never really had much trouble accessing the inside, having to redo the thermal paste every time I opened one was a bit annoying.

    I only remember ever replacing one arm, they were pretty reliable.
    baconstangjony0
  • Reply 18 of 21
    sphericspheric Posts: 2,575member
    macxpress said:
    macxpress said:
    Is this like, make the iMac look like a sunflower and we got the iMac G4 which BTW was a very cool and great looking Mac but overall was a poor iMac. The arm mechanism was a failure point on many of those. 
    I had a G4 iMac for years, the arm was never a problem.  I guess YMMV.
    Accessing the inside WAS a problem...
    It's also why the eMac was created because the iMac G4 wasn't durable enough for education use. Also price as well. The arm and LCD screen made the iMac quite expensive compared to its outgoing models which were priced as low a I think $699 at the time. 
    The only reason for the eMac was price. LCDs back then were expensive. 

    The arm may have eventually become a general problem over time, but it certainly never seemed like a common point of failure within a machine’s “useful” life while I was still in Apple service. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 21
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,838member
    spheric said:
    macxpress said:
    macxpress said:
    Is this like, make the iMac look like a sunflower and we got the iMac G4 which BTW was a very cool and great looking Mac but overall was a poor iMac. The arm mechanism was a failure point on many of those. 
    I had a G4 iMac for years, the arm was never a problem.  I guess YMMV.
    Accessing the inside WAS a problem...
    It's also why the eMac was created because the iMac G4 wasn't durable enough for education use. Also price as well. The arm and LCD screen made the iMac quite expensive compared to its outgoing models which were priced as low a I think $699 at the time. 
    The only reason for the eMac was price. LCDs back then were expensive. 

    The arm may have eventually become a general problem over time, but it certainly never seemed like a common point of failure within a machine’s “useful” life while I was still in Apple service. 
    Schools did not want to buy the iMac G4 yes because of price, but also because of the arm design. I worked in education for over 10yrs and it was an issue. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 21
    M68000M68000 Posts: 765member
    macxpress said:

    M68000 said:
    “Apple is very much a fashion brand” 

    ??????    What ?
    Apple is totally a fashion brand. Its designs speak for themselves as a fashion statement. Even a Mac sitting on a table is I'd say the most elegant looking computer on the market today. Every Mac looks high end now matter how expensive it is. 
    I do not share your belief.  Apple is a great electronics company and certainly a luxury brand.  But,  a fashion company is about what is offered for a person to wear.  Apple does not make luxury clothing as far as i know. 
    watto_cobra
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