Welcome to a whole new way to look at industrial design styling which, actually, involves a lot of inspiration from history. Here are some ideas that can make any product design better.
It is time to re-boot our thinking of the current aesthetics in industrial design. I am calling this new movement 'Fusion Style,’ with reasons explained below. The following Manifesto attempts to explain what Fusion Style is, what it is not, and why you should care.
This Manifesto will also formally organize ideas and trends, some old and some new, that have been gaining traction and attention for a long time.
As atomic energy was first being commercialized, it became synonymous with this optimistic era where ‘anything was possible’ and the new name was used to describe the designs of the time.
Inspired by the mid-century Atomic Style, with its dynamic and futuristic forms, Fusion Style is both an extension and fresh re-interpretation of that design language.
This philosophy is a reaction to the shortcomings of current design trends, especially in the technology space. We have increasingly shiny, featureless, and impersonal designs that leave people cold.
Even worse, designs are often confusingly similar, with each iteration making incremental changes and moving closer to their competition. Companies that copy each other have thus achieved “anti-branding,” purely by attempting to do the exact opposite.
Using a power analogy, fusion power is simply the next step, or the high(er)-tech successor to atomic power.
Equally useful, the word fusion also describes a tasty mixture of different foods or music. It is this creative and original blend of the new and the familiar that make it different and special.
It is feared that the current design trend of monochromatic shininess will reach a point where all objects will someday look like black mirrored cubes (or paper-thin rectangles) with no obvious controls.
And then, six to 12 months later, the next mirrored cube will come out, slightly shinier or thinner, requiring everyone to dump their current model ... and probably buy new cables.
It is tempting to call this ‘retro,’ but Fusion Style is so much more. It is thoroughly current, high-tech, and innovative. Fusion incorporates recognizable elements of history and personality to provide a more emotional connection.
This connection between product and user, when successful, is what makes you want to hang on to your investment long after a newer model has been released.
In contrast, retro styling can be superficial, particularly when it involves re-issuing design classics ‘verbatim.’ This hollow approach also leaves out quality materials and current advances in technology that would otherwise make it far more usable.
There are six straightforward and highly interchangeable features in Fusion Style.
You are invited to mix-and-match as well as add and subtract. If the result is tasty, fun, beautiful, humorous — or a delightful and improbable combination of all of the above — then you’re doing it right.