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Sam Dunne

The Core77 Design Blog

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  26 Mar 2014  |  Comments (0)

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HTC launched the new HTC One (M8) to great fanfare in central London yesterday, its new DotView case stealing much of the show. Core77 UK correspondent Sam Dunne caught up with VP of Design Scott Croyle to talk industrial design on the front-line.

With the keynotes out of the way and a restless swarm of tech bloggers let loose on banks of demo handsets, we were plucked from the fray and ushered down a bright white corridor of pre-fab meeting rooms. A quick handshake and a warm smile, Scott takes a seat at a table strewn with a spectrum of handsets, apologizing for the smell of fresh paint. I mention the local joke that the smell follows the Queen around. He lifts his gaze and grins quizzically.

HTC's VP of Design makes no attempt to hide his relief at another launch event done and dusted. "Selling," Croyle tells me, "is a huge part of my job, of the designer's job, both externally and internally... You gotta engage the business with stories to drive home innovations that are actually meaningful to people... even our engineers are selling their new stuff with fun little consumer stories now..." And then, of course, it's showtime: "Giving the consumer the stories behind the design helps them engage with our work emotionally." Getting up on stage, Scott admits, doesn't come naturally, "but it's so important for us as designers to put ourselves and our ideas out there... we've got to be confident and resilient if we want to be heard."

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As a leader within a massive organization, Scott eloquently elaborates on the ongoing battle of championing meaning in product development: "There's a fire hose of information and stuff coming at you from all directions all the time... the only thing you can do is to filter it. With experience, designers develop what I call an informed intuition. You don't need to know everything before you act. You do have to know when to trust your gut. These days, I can look at the title and summary of a report and know whether I should dig for more detail. It comes with practice." With a wince of self-awareness, Scott speaks of the language he has armed himself with for fighting feature creep and mediocrity. "I don't let anyone talk about differentiation, it's not about that, it's got to be better-entiated. I'm always talking about meaningful innovation... innovation by itself just doesn't cut it."

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  18 Dec 2013  |  Comments (0)

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The Core77 Ultimate Gift Guide is one of the more popular pieces of content that we put together every year, both for our readers and those of us who have the privilege—and eye—for making the selections.

Here, contributor Sam Dunne elaborates on some of his selections for this year's Gift Guide.

Like moths to a flame, droves of wide-eyed design graduates are coaxed away from the provinces every year, fatally attracted by the bright lights and endless Sharpie marker supply of big city design studios.

Should someone on your (left to the last minute) Christmas gift list be going through this crucial right of passage into urban professionalism, get them welling up with gratitude this festive season with some essential survival tools for the trials and tribulations of working life in the concrete jungle.

For starters, consider getting their photography kit up to scratch with some handy gadgets. The lower budget shopper might try a Slyphone to equip their design grad loved one with espionage grade observational research skills. Those feeling a little more generous could consider one of Sony's revolutionary smartphone-attachable lens, for picture perfect photography without the weight or expense of an SLR.

You can be sure your poor ambitious friend will be doing their fair share of travelling over the coming year. A lot less glamourous than it sounds, your little nomad will need sleep and something to while away many an airborne hour. Gift them the new Ostrich Pillow Light for some handy head comfort or a 100 Questions kit to break the silence when going long haul with colleagues.

The new design YoPros stationery appreciation levels will also no doubt be reaching record levels in a bid to maintain some sanity during late nights in the studio. Give them some unexpected stapling satisfaction with Kokuyo Harinacs stapleless stapler or perhaps a chance to reflect on their Post-It addiction with the Giving Tree.

Sam Dunne, London Correspondent

See the full 2013 Gift Guide for more ideas →

Posted by Sam Dunne  |  14 Nov 2013  |  Comments (1)

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Have we reached Peak Design? Plotted on Gartner's hype cycle, the design industry's ascendance from relative obscurity to C-suite sweetheart may be said to have slipped over a peak of inflated expectations some years ago. Should we be wary, we might wonder, of a dip into disillusionment? Certainly, the days of business and political leaders pontificating on the virtues of its practice and processes from up high are over. But the trend towards inaugurations of talismanic 'CDOs' in a handful of enlightened organisations might suggest otherwise.

The perils of becoming just another boardroom 'fad that failed' have been foretold [PDF]; in recent years, the grand promises of foolproof processes and silver-bullet problem-solving have distracted from more balanced debate on the role design can play within business. Whilst design sits higher than ever on the business agenda, has a legacy of overblown promises—ultimately impossible to live up to—been left behind?

Meanwhile, last week's (long overdue?) must-read Design Council report on design-led business [PDF], underscores the sticky and at times paradoxical reality of attempting to prove design's value, alongside compelling anecdotal advocacy from influential business leaders. More strong leadership of this sort will be required in the long run, if design is to convert those still loyal to the short-term bottom line. The breadth and depth of any cynical sinkhole (at a macro or individual case level) will be determined by the ability of design leaders to debunk their practise of tired myths, share compelling success stories—beyond the obvious and omnipotent Apple and tech startups—and build new strategic skillsets [PDF] around existing strengths.

Enter the provocatively named Design Authority, a new collaboration between international design leaders practicing within the corporate realm.

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |   7 Oct 2013  |  Comments (0)

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Popping up in a small, leafy square in central Vienna this design week, the 'Construisine' community kitchen and workshop creates a space for local residents to cook food from regional produce and build furniture from recycled wood, whilst drawing important parallels between the two in an attempt to encourage the Viennese public to embrace making.

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With a whole host of fun food making tools, the creators Johanna Dehio [previously] and Dominik Hehl also offer revellers 'recipes' for furniture making, the installation thus growing in size the more it is used.

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |   4 Oct 2013  |  Comments (0)

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Another example of the intriguing collaborations between young, emerging designers and Austrian industry supported by Vienna Design Week, German designer Sebastian Herkner has developed an ingenious new technique for historic Viennese textile and embrodery merchants Zur Schwäbischen Jungfrau.

A contemporary twist on the family-run company's age-old monograph napkin embroidery, Sebastian has devised a much more fleeting and flexible way of embellishing the table linen—embossing lettering with a custom-made letterpress set and iron. The crisp yet subtle effect created lingers only until the fabric is washed, leaving room for all sorts of creative communication at your next dinner party.

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