Tricked-out, tech or grassroots industrial design?

No matter if it's tricked-out, grassroots or just plain pimped, Clive Thompson appreciates the work consumers and companies alike have been putting into customizing their technology.

Anyone can mail off a picture of their dog to put on a mouse pad, but conceptualizing an entire electronic device takes, y'know, work. ... I lust after iPods or Mini Coopers not because they're unique, but because they've been so artfully made that I couldn't imagine doing it better myself. And there's also something fun about owning the exact same gadget as millions of other people. It makes you part of a tribe.(Slate)

Of course, there's more than just well-crafted design behind the success of the iPod, Mini and Michael Graves toilet brushes: there's oversize marketing budgets and well-targeted integrated campaigns at work as well.

But some members of the tribe don't appreciate the careful and stylish blending of design and technology, in particular when it prompts a stampede of consumerism and shakes their thin grip on individuality/elitism. Some NY DJs really have a bone to pick. Their complaint? Celebrity guest DJs with their iPod playlists are ruining the club scene:

iPod-people can’t “beat-match,” blending songs rhythmically together into a seamless, layered flow, or deconstructing them into something new, unlike with a traditional twin turntable and mixer setup. ... “The novelty of the technology has clubs dropping their standards,” says [D.J. Adam] Goldstone. (New York Metro)

Clive goes on about the intermingling of readily available customization, attractive and efficient design, and the disposability of modern technology. It's worth a read.

Dilbert had a thought about product designers this weekend. Victor Papanek had more than one thought about design, but this non-sequitur is a good one to end a post:

"To create lipstick for honest whores is one thing, but to create deodorant for her pimp is another."

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