Here at Unboxed, we’ve recently received delivery of a brand new lava lamp - the novelty lights that are filled with lurid oils that hypnotically swirl around. Today, it seems to me that the lava lamp’s retro styling makes them an object of desire heaped in the nostalgia of a different decade. The science of hot oil is pretty simple, however it’s worth remembering that in the 1970’s, they were a modernist designer’s attempt to achieve the aesthetic of a space-age living room of the future. The kind of room seen in movies like Forbidden Planet and Barberella. All that was missing was some shiny silver jump suits - and some people even tried those out for size!
When the lava lamp is placed on a crisp white desk in 2011, surrounded by our contemporary gadgets and gizmos; smooth aluminium laptops, iPhones and iPads, it poses the question: has the future turned out the way it was supposed to? When an image of what the future was envisaged to be, is juxtaposed with with our modern world, does it come close to that comic book ideal? Should we feel disappointed?
Well it must seem like an odd question, no - we don’t holiday in space, we don’t drive flying cars, and I have never even seen a hover board! A large amount of technological advances are to either improve, or extend human life. One of the most common misconceptions was that we would create consumer robots to do the jobs we humans either couldn’t do, or didn’t want to do. The idea of artificial slaves available to all - often to alleviate humans of any effort or responsibility at all; I think this is where the difference lies between where people thought we’d go, and where we’ve come so far.
It seems to me that the most positive advances in technology, and the forefront of modern consumer product design, both for hardware and software development are not to remove human effort entirely, and whilst still working to offer a remedy for human error, good design is striving to make people’s lives easier, more exciting and more inspiring. We can all get behind this ideal, and make our own contribution - no matter how small - to further improve the way we produce, and use technology to live our lives. As a company who builds software applications for mass consumption, Unboxed are always working towards a better product, a cleaner user interface, a more compelling graphic design communication, and a better, more enjoyable, more fulfilling experience for the user in everything we do.
I believe that UX (user experience) design is, and will continue to play a key role the future of the internet, and in the last few years the way has been paved by great companies all over the world who’ve made distinct advances in this area. Why should the average website be clunky and horrible to use? Even on a budget, simple planning, logic, and empathy with the target user early on in the design process can remedy this. With so many people building flawed websites these days, mistakes have, and will continue to be made along the way, but I guess all we can do is try to make the internet better than the way we found it.
It’s not a comic book future yet, but it’s still pretty good, and all the flying cars and silver fabrics can wait till later, can’t they?