I love thinking, dreaming even, of the process of designing, engineering and manufacturing a product. I love watching How It’s Made. Not just because it’s interesting, but because I think there are major parallels between the product-development process and the process that we follow to create marketing materials.
In this week’s Business Week, there’s a great article on Lenovo’s new ThinkPad X300 called “Perfect: The quest to design the ultimate portable PC“. It’s interesting to see how the X300 stacks up against the Macbook Air (it’s way, way better) but I found the following quote pretty fascinating:
“Arimasa Naitoh [product development manager, 'father of the ThinkPad'] believes there should be creative tension between designers and engineers. ‘We encourage [the creatives] to design something that’s not too real,’ he says. ‘If they stick to superreality, nothing will be fun, nothing will be new.’”
First of all, the idea of pushing past superreality into crazy-town (“I’ll go to the loony-bin with you!”) is awesome. We should all be doing that, and then whittling the craziness back down to something really, really good.
But secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I was glad to see creative tension validated elsewhere, as I think it’s essential to doing great work. When I’m working on projects with Amigo 1 and Amigo 2, hereafter named Quincy Rothschild and Armand Downs (more on that in a few weeks), we’re always fighting. We fight when they think the strategy is lame, or when my site architecture doesn’t make sense. We fight when the concepts are too crazy, or when the concepts are too subtle. We fight when we get into the design process. And we especially fight when we start developing. I love seeing Quincy and Armand get mad at each other about a Flash transition, or the way a page is sliced. Because at the end of the day we all push each other to move faster, to be better at our craft.
And that’s what it’s all about. That’s why I’m in this business.