16 November 2016Apple:
“Designed by Apple In California” chronicles 20 years of Apple design through 450 photographs of our products and the processes used to make them. A visual history spanning iMac to Apple Pencil, complete with descriptions of innovative materials and techniques, it captures every detail with honesty and intention. Printed on specially milled German paper with gilded matt silver edges, using eight colour separations and low-ghost inks, this hardback volume took more than eight years to create and has been crafted with as much care and attention as the products featured within. It is both a testament and a tribute to the meticulous design, engineering and manufacturing methods that are singularly Apple.
Conceptually, I don’t object to the idea of Apple making a portfolio book of its best work. Using custom inks, meticulously chosen materials, and printing processes, Ive and the Apple design team are showing off twenty years of beautiful, marvellous, world-changing products in a bespoke photo book.
The products are photographed in stages, showing how things are made as well as the final results. Apple says it took them eight years to make this; Ive says that they had to reshoot some of the earlier products as camera technology improved so much in the interim the older photos looked antiquated.
I was disappointed that the book is just a collection of photos; accompanying text describing some salient design points for each of the products featured would have been nice to include. Anecdotal additions like that would have made the book more timeless, like an official record of significant Apple history.
I can understand, though, why it only focuses on imagery. One big photo per page is striking and impressive, achieved by disregarding ancillary clutter like words and names. It’s an aesthetic expression of ultimate focus and priority, which is what Ive would probably describe as Apple’s core design values.
I’d love to own this book but I can’t stomach the price. The high price was criticised a lot on Twitter for being insane but the $199 version really isn’t outrageous for what it is. Hardbound photography books are not cheap and this is not a mass-market item; part of the appeal is its exclusivity.
The $299 ‘upsell’ offering is where I draw the line on what’s acceptable; the fact that exists is a bit ridiculous. I don’t see a justification for manufacturing this in two different sizes. Make it big or make it small, doing both weakens the integrity of the whole thing.