In 1983, Apple signed a contract with Hartmut Esslinger, the German designer known for conceiving the look of Sony Trinitron television. Esslinger’s design firm was given a $1.2 million annual contract to relocate to California and work exclusively with Apple. From this partnership came the “Snow White look.” This design language featured white cases with tight rounded curves and was seen immediately on the Apple IIc. Later it influenced Apple’s computers for the next seven years, making an impact on global design trends in the computer industry.
Also, in that same year, Apple hired Ridley Scott, director of the 1982 sci-fi thriller Blade Runner, to direct the “1984” Apple Macintosh commercial. The commercial debuted during the Super Bowl and subsequently won critical acclaim.
Most recently, Apple hired former Yves Saint Laurent CEO to work on “special projects.” One can surmise that these “special projects” include wearable devices.
It is evident throughout Apple’s history that the company has placed a premium on investment in creative talent in design and marketing. Such talent is responsible for helping consumers understand how to feel about a transition into a world with a new technology. With a future of wearables on the horizon, the need for this type of creativity has never been more pressing. The transition from phone to smartphone and PC to tablet, have replaced an incumbent with sexy newcomer. For those with good vision, a wearable device such as Google Glass doesn’t replace eyeglasses. An iWatch would replace your everyday wristwatch, making it an easier transition than unnecessary eyeglasses. Regardless, a compelling vision for the future is needed for any wearable to be successfully adopted into the mainstream. Based on Apple’s history finding the sweet spot between technology and creativity, I am excited to see their vision of a future with wearables.