Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation

Apple I

Adam Pritzker deftly combined this image of an Apple I and this Steve Jobs quote on design from an interview in 2000 that appeared in Fortune.

“In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains of the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.” - Steve Jobs

There's an expression of that soul of the creator, in the running failures and successes of the executed design, that attempts to make a connection with the user of the product. Some products are imbued with the soul of a passionate creative force, others become refined to the point of feeling somber. Underneath the surface of Apple products, there's always been a sense of human connection, either in the literal early smiley Mac icons, or in the more polished and subtle interactions and connections we have with machines using our touch screens today.

There's no way to understate how much Apple products have influenced what I do every day. I learned Basic and how to type in high shool on an Apple II. I played Tetris for the first time on a friend's original beige Mac. The first computer I ever spent my own money on was a PowerBook 520c, the very one I learned HTML on. With each successive generation of polish, in every one of these machines I've touched, I've always felt that connection, and that desire to want to play with computers. I wouldn't be doing what I do now if Jobs' Mac never existed.

Every product starts somewhere, but as with people, the soul is what sustains the connection. It's heartening and inspiring to me to think back on this legacy of product design and where it started. It makes me feel like every naive notion I have about design is OK as long as I have a passion to improve and deliver something with soul.