Gotta love our readership. Following Wednesday's post admiring the design of Lytro's forthcoming Illum camera, Core77 regular Slippyfish pointed out that it was pulled off by product design and development firm Artefact Group, and shortly after that, Artefact themselves dropped us a line to elaborate on the project.
We only had time to get a few questions in, and I usually can't stop myself from asking the most pedestrian one first: So how long did this project take?
"[Lytro had been developing the guts] for several years, [but] the industrial design portion of that enormous effort lasted only a few months from early ideation to the definition of final design intent," says Markus Wierzoch, Artefact's Design Director. "After that we continued to collaborate with Lytro on some of the design, feasibility and manufacturability details up until the early stages of tooling."
The biggest challenge in designing it?
"Since it is at the same time intended to bring computational photography to the experienced and sophisticated photographer," Wierzoch continues, "our biggest challenge was to find the perfect balance between the new and the familiar, in order for Illum to both stand out from the crowd and at the same time be attractive to the very opinionated group of creative pioneers that it is built for."
Which leads us to the unusual and slanted body we commented on.
"One of the most important findings," says Wierzoch, "was that the posture we assume when taking photos has changed with the advent of mobile photography. Instead of pressing our cameras against our eyes, we have learned to hold them about a foot away at eye level.
"We found that neither posture is well suited for image capture with Illum: Due to the added size and weight that comes with high quality optics, professional digital photography demands yet another posture, away from the body and slightly below eye level. Illum allows for that posture with an angled screen and a built-in screen tilt: Its signature angle is the pure expression of the act of shooting digital media."
Lastly I got to ask Gavin Kelly, Artefact's Co-Founder and Principal, how the Lytro fits in with the rest of Artefact's work. "We believe in and work to create disruptive yet meaningful innovations grounded in the user experience," Kelly explains. "In Lytro we found a partner whose vision aligned with our philosophy as well. It was this shared focus on the user experience that allowed us to find the perfect balance between innovative features like the angled display and the familiar time-tested aspects of camera design like the location of the controls."
For those interested in more details on their process, Artefact has posted a project page on the Illum here. And for those who are just interested in some Friday afternoon eye candy, here's the Illum's teaser vid: