January 18, 2012

99% Invisible and CES

Dennis O'Donnell

99 Invisible
It’s been a while since our last blog post, and I’m going to try to tie together all that has happened as best as possible, because I definitely believe there’s a valid link between it all.

First, I’d like to heartily recommend anyone reading this go and subscribe to Roman Mars’ Podcast, 99% Invisible.  If you’re reading this, it means you either follow Clear-Coat, or its founders, which means you definitely have a penchant for good products and thoughtful design like we do – it probably means you’re also a nerd, like we are.  99% Invisible explores in-depth what goes on behind the scenes for everything “built” in our world – our products, cities, structures (both physical and not), and so on – and what either makes these things great, or not….or simply what makes them what they are.  It’s a beautiful exploration of the built world, and a new favorite of mine – and certainly helps me open my mind in trying to make better cell phone accessories at Clear-Coat.  Go have a listen – most are under 15 minutes, too!

Secondly, is why the long hiatus in blog posts – besides the holiday season, we were whisked away to CES 2012 in Las Vegas last week.  My hope was to blog from CES with all the great new products, new innovations, and amazing devices coming down the pike for us as consumers.  Sorry to say, I found few examples of this at the show, and none worth blogging about.  CES was a fantastic display of trade show marketing and distractions – I’ve never seen so many exotic cars, ridiculous performers (from magicians to trampoline acrobats), and over-the-top trade show booths in my life – they were all truly stunning.  It was obvious, though, that these were all to distract from the lack of product innovation that took place in the last couple years.  The biggest buzz at CES this year was “3D everything” – but I still have yet to understand the real value of 3D anything.panduan android

So to wrap this post up in a meaningful way – I wish the product innovators at CES would listen to 99% Invisible, and reflect a bit on what products they’re putting out.  The podcast gives great insight into what works and what doesn’t in the built world, and as a product designer, I think it’s a great point of reflection.  Great marketing only goes so far – I would have really preferred to see truly innovative products at CES – well-thought, well-designed products that fill a need and are worth writing about, as opposed to just great marketing.  Roman’s got a great point in his title alone – the real magic happens in the 99% of the work very few will ever witness….but CES exhibitors seemed to be focused entirely on the 1% remaining – the visible, marketable, though least substantial part of their products.

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