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02-06-2012, 03:22 PM - 3 Likes   #1
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Marc Newson's K-01 fails design principles test

Marc Newson's K0-1 design clearly makes strong references to the design style of Dieter Rams, an industrial designer well-known through his work for the German company Braun.

Wherever Newson references Rams, the K-01 looks great. Unfortunately, Newson felt the need to put a pretentious designer stamp on the K-01 and here is where his work fails a couple of Rams' ten principles of "good design". According to Rams, good design:
  • Is aesthetic (The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.): Clearly, the snorkel/chimney gimmick and other design aspects are not well received. Many call the camera "ugly" and the daughter of Shawn Barnett (from Imaging Resource) thinks the controls look "too childish" (she is 14 years old)!
  • Is as little design as possible (Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials.): Again the snorkel/chimney is an offender but also the on/off switch fails the test. Clearly it is more decorative but less ergonomic than the previous Pentax on/off switches. EDIT: Maybe the on/off switch is actually useful when holding the K-01 like an F1 steering wheel?
  • Is honest (It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.): Clearly, the bulge which mimics a prism housing, promises a viewfinder. It appeals to the looks of professional grade cameras without delivering the goods.
  • Is long-lasting (It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today's throwaway society.): The K-01's design is just too gimmicky to have any chance of becoming a classic. Rams' Snow White's Coffin -- the first audio gear to feature a transparent cover -- has become a classic because its design is functional, simple, and aesthetic.
  • Is thorough down to the last detail (Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.): Clearly there is a reason why the exposure compensation button is placed differently on previous Pentax cameras. It does not make sense in terms of usability to place it where the K-01 features it. The "green button" is also misplaced as it cannot be reached using a normal grip. Marc Newson openly states that he isn't interested in user feedback on his designs because that would only hamper the forward-looking aspect of his designs.
In summary, unfortunately Marc Newson -- in an apparent attempt to design another museum exhibition piece rather than restraining himself and focusing on user needs -- violated another of Rams' rules, i.e. to let the design be "unobtrusive (Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art.).

Which Pentaxian does not appreciate the buzz the K-01 has been causing, but
  1. you don't want negative buzz (ugly, too large, toy camera, hopeless company, ...), and
  2. ultimately "buzz" does not equate to revenue. The camera needs to sell, not be talked about.
One can only hope that the K-01 won't cost Pentax too dearly and that their future DSLRs will be designed by the same competent people who brought us gems like the K10D/K20D and K-7/K-5.

EDIT: I should have probably clarified my premise that Pentax produces cameras for photography enthusiasts rather than fashion items that emphasise style over function, appealing to some current "Hello Kitty" or such trend. I think that's fair enough given the design goals that Marc Newson reports to have set himself. If the brief changes from "good industrial design" to "producing a fashion statement to tap into a hipster market", the evaluation criteria obviously change dramatically.


Last edited by Class A; 04-23-2012 at 07:44 PM.
02-06-2012, 03:28 PM - 4 Likes   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Class A Quote
Marc Newson's K0-1 design clearly makes strong references to the design style of Dieter Rams, an industrial designer well-known through his work for the German company Braun.

Wherever Newson references Rams, the K-01 looks great. Unfortunately, Newson felt the need to put a pretentious designer stamp on the K-01 and here is where his work fails a couple of Rams' ten principles of "good design". According to Rams, good design:
  • Is aesthetic (The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.): Clearly, the snorkel/chimney gimmick and other design aspects are not well received. Many call the camera "ugly" and the 14-year old daughter of Shawn Barnett (from Imaging Resource) thinks the controls look "too childish"!
  • Is as little design as possible (Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials.): Again the snorkel/chimney is an offender but also the on/off switch fails the test. Clearly it is more decorative but less ergonomic than the usual Pentax on/off switches.
  • Is honest (It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.): Clearly, the bulge which mimics a prism housing, promises a viewfinder. It appeals to the looks of professional grade cameras without delivering the goods.
  • Is long-lasting (It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today's throwaway society.): The K-01's design is just too gimmicky to have any chance of becoming a classic. Ram's Snow White's Coffin -- the first audio gear to feature a transparent cover -- has become a classic because its design is functional, simple, and aesthetic.
  • Is thorough down to the last detail (Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.): Clearly there is a reason why the exposure compensation button is placed differently on previous Pentax cameras. It does not make sense in terms of usability to place it where the K-01 features it. Marc Newson openly states that he isn't interested in user feedback on his designs because that would only hamper the forward-looking aspect of his designs.
In summary, unfortunately Marc Newson -- in an apparent attempt to design another museum exhibition piece rather than restraining himself and focusing on user needs -- violated another of Rams' rules, i.e. to let the design be "unobtrusive (Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art.).

What Pentaxian does not appreciate the buzz the K-01 has been causing, but
  1. you don't want negative buzz (ugly, too large, toy camera, hopeless company, ...), and
  2. ultimately "buzz" does not equate to income. The camera needs to sell, not be talked about.
One can only hope that the K-01 won't cost Pentax too dearly and that their future DSLRs will be designed by the same competent people who brought us gems like the K10D/K20D and K-7/K-5.

I disagree.
02-06-2012, 03:29 PM   #3
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Interesting analysis. Let's see how it works and how it sells before completely dismissing it, eh?
02-06-2012, 03:33 PM   #4
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People that like the looks of the K-01 seem to be happy to forgive it's other sins. Those that hate the look dismiss it's many strengths. Nothing has changed in thousands of posts on the topic.

By the way, I happen to love the snorkel

02-06-2012, 03:34 PM - 1 Like   #5
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YAWN, have you shot with one yet?
02-06-2012, 03:37 PM   #6
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WE are talking about personal taste. I like it very much per my taste
02-06-2012, 03:39 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
People that like the looks of the K-01 seem to be happy to forgive it's other sins. Those that hate the look dismiss it's many strengths. Nothing has changed in thousands of posts on the topic.

By the way, I happen to love the snorkel
Yeah, but you also love Seikos - so there's no accounting for taste
02-06-2012, 03:39 PM   #8
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I think this is your 5th post in the past 5 days disparaging the "snorkel" design as you call it? Or merely the 4th? Sheesh.

02-06-2012, 03:44 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by konraDarnok Quote
I disagree.
With Rams' ten principles?

QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
Interesting analysis. Let's see how it works and how it sells before completely dismissing it, eh?
Thanks. BTW, I'm not dismissing the K-01. I wish it well (not too well, it shouldn't encourage Pentax to put style over usability in the future).

QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
Nothing has changed in thousands of posts on the topic.
I guess I posted because I felt I went beyond "I don't like it". I haven't seen a criticism based on design principles before.
02-06-2012, 03:45 PM - 1 Like   #10
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I approve of these laws of design... classic modernism. But they aren't the only approaches to good design and clearly there is a place for whimsy and self expression in product design, postmodern architecture etc....

And who says the snorkel isn't 'functional'. Smear a little detergent, blow in the SD card slot, and bubbles will come out of it.
02-06-2012, 03:48 PM   #11
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To step in for a minor point - the whole majority of the "it's ugly, it's a bad design, it's too childish, it's a tonka toy" discussion comes solely from the yellow K-01. The white and black ones barely register anything in most people's eyes.

As far as "long lasting image" or "simple design" goes, I've got nothing. To each their own - I like how the camera looks on the front and back, but not so much the top.
02-06-2012, 03:49 PM   #12
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There is another video on yoututbe where Marc Newson does an interview at the event. The interviewer asked Marc whether the consumer input is important and he blantly said that he doesn't like to listen to consumers. For him, his job is to look toward the future and what's next. In that angle, the K-01 makes sense to me, because it is a refreshing look to a old consumer product. We'll just have to see whether this works out in the end.

Also, Marc is a professional, I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt on what he thinks makes great design.
02-06-2012, 03:52 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by riff Quote
YAWN, have you shot with one yet?
Have you jumped off a ten story building without a parachute yet? Maybe it isn't as bad as people say?

I do not need to contort my index finger in real life to know that the placement of the exposure compensation button sucks. I can observe the design violations without holding a K-01 myself.

Trust me, I really looked and looked and looked at the K-01 time and again, waiting for the moment where it clicks and an inner voice says "It is beautiful". But it doesn't happen.

QuoteOriginally posted by bobmaxja Quote
WE are talking about personal taste.
I'm glad you like it, but good design is not about personal taste.

QuoteOriginally posted by Basset Quote
I think this is your 5th post in the past 5 days disparaging the "snorkel" design as you call it?
What did you expect when you clicked on my post?

Also, this time it wasn't me complaining about the "snorkel". I just put forward the notion that a real design icon (Dieter Rams) would most likely disapprove, based on his design principles.

In general, I'm expressing my frustration with the K-01 design because I want Pentax to do well and I feel that a designer's ambitions to create yet another pretentious museum showpiece will hurt Pentax. I'm frustrated because high-quality materials are wasted on a design that does not work visually for many people and creates the impression of a cheap toy. Not what I want for Pentax.

Maybe the K-01 will be a great success and I will eventually have to thank Marc Newson for his input, but as far as good design principles are concerned, the K-01 will forever be a failure.

Last edited by Class A; 02-06-2012 at 03:58 PM.
02-06-2012, 03:56 PM - 2 Likes   #14
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QuoteQuote:
I do not need to contort my index finger in real life to know that the placement of the exposure compensation button sucks. I can observe the design violations without holding a K-01 myself.
What a drama queen.

QuoteQuote:
Trust me, I really tried looked and looked and looked at the K-01 time and again, waiting for the moment where it clicks and an inner voice says "It is beautiful". But it doesn't happen.
Maybe it's you.

QuoteQuote:
I'm glad you like it, but good design is not about personal taste.
Did someone die and make you the god of "good design."

QuoteQuote:
Also, this time it wasn't me complaining about the "snorkel". I just put forward the notion that a real design icon (Dieter Rams) would most likely disapprove, based on his design principles.
Because you're inside Dieter Rams head and you know what he thinks? Did Dieter send you a certificate granting you the right to speak for him? Didn't think so.
02-06-2012, 04:00 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Class A Quote
With Rams' ten principles?
I think your analysis of them is ad hoc. You're taking your personal preferences and forcing them onto the 'principals' instead of the other way around.

To critique your first point, aesthetics: What you've done here is a pretty classic Argumentum ad populum. There's nothing more to elaborate about.

To the second point, Is as little design as possible I'd say this design exemplifies this principal. There's nothing pretensions about this camera. The buttons and controls are straight forward -- with no anonymous extraneous switches and dials that modern cameras have in abundance.

To the third point, Is honest Again nothing is extraneous on this camera. Your example of the bump is misplaced. They had to put the flash housing somewhere -- as directly below it is the mount. And the "snorkle" is designed so this camera can be laid. flat on any side -- even the top.

To the forth point, Is long-lasting We don't have a time machine. A design doesn't become timeless until after the fact.

To the fifth point, Is thorough down to the last detail This camera is designed to be held at arms length. It looks to me like the buttons are laid on to achieve that.
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