Yves Behar on skeuomorphic design at 100% Design

Yves Behar on skeuomorphic design and Apple

Developing hardware and software at the same time is design's "new frontier", according to industrial designer Yves Behar. Speaking to Dezeen editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs at 100% Design yesterday, the industrial designer said bringing 3D designers and interface designers together was "a whole new blue ocean" adding, "Apple is actually a little bit behind in that area." Update: this interview is featured in Dezeen Book of Interviews, which is on sale now for £12 (+ audio).

"What I've been really interested in is, when these things get designed together, as one, really new interesting paradigms, really new interesting experiences are happening," said Behar. "And let me say just one thing; probably it's going to be a little bit provocative: nobody is really doing that today. Even Apple is designing their product and their software separately."

Behar rejected the "skeuomorphic" approach adopted by companies including Apple, which has led to the grainy leather-effect Calendar and wood-effect bookshelf applications in its products.

User-interface designers have typically attempted to evoke familiar real-world objects when designing digital applications such as calendars, books and diaries, arguing that this approach leads to more intuitive interfaces that users feel more comfortable with.

Behar questioned why those same companies' hardware designers rejected the skeuomorphic approach and said it was akin to getting one industrial design team to design the outside of a chair and another to design the inside.

"You could use the exact same explanation for a hardware product," Behar said. "You could say "I don't know what a tablet is, I've never used a tablet. Let's make it look like a book. Or let's make it look like my leather-bound notepad. Obviously they didn't go there with the hardware so why did they go there with the software? It's a really good question. There's now many companies looking at it in a way that's quite interesting and Apple actually is a little bit behind in that area."

Behar has set up a user interface group at his San Francisco design studio Fuseproject to explore how to bring the two disciplines together. "That's a whole new blue ocean for us as designers, it's a new frontier," he said.

Apple was this week named best design studio of the past 50 years at a one-off D&AD award ceremony.

Behar has designed products inculding the XO affordable computer for One Laptop Per Child and the Jambox portable wireless speaker for Jawbone. See more Dezeen stories about his work.

Dezeen’s Marcus Fairs is also hosting Dezeen Live at 100% Design daily. Today's show starts at 5pm in the auditorium and will feature talks from Dominic Wilcox, Asif Khan and Daniel Charny plus a DJ/musical performance featuring Dezeen Music Project.
See this week’s full Dezeen Live lineup »
See all our stories about the London Design Festival »