A New Era for Design

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To the unknowing eye, quality design can seem obvious. Take the iPod: clean, simple and so ubiquitous it’s hard to imagine life before it. And that’s where the beauty is. Like Roger Federer makes tennis look easy, a good designer does the same. But easy it’s not. Designing a functional and enticing product while getting the right people on board to help manufacture and distribute it is almost impossible. Get-rich-quick schemes and infomercial-ready inventions are a dime a dozen, but excellent design is too rare.

With that in mind, Scott Wilson’s TikTok+LunaTik project can be considered a wonder. When I first read Scott’s Kickstarter proposal I was instantly struck by the fact that an interchangeable watchband for the iPod Nano didn’t already exist. And watching the video it was plain as day how complex this seemingly simple design really was. It is anything but a cheap strap and a clip. As Wilson notes, “We wanted to create a product that your friends and strangers would stop you and ask ‘WTF is that??? And where can I get one?!’” He succeeded. I don’t wear a watch or own an iPod Nano. Now I want both.

Taken by its modern, yet organic design, I passed the video around the office and, oddly enough, everyone who watched it felt the same. We were in awe. The weekend passed and on Tuesday morning we saw the TikTok/LunaTik project launch. How cool! Within hours the tech community caught on. And bizarrely it happened on the same day well-known Apple accessory maker Griffin Technology’s unveiled their own wristwatch clip-in for the new Nano.

The irony of corporate-marketed competition isn’t lost on Scott Wilson, a former creative director at Nike who specialized in — and became obsessed with — watches during his tenure at the company. Wilson has done design work for many companies, including Microsoft’s new Kinect for XBox. But when he presented the TikTok to clients, no one was interested.

Not that he minded. As he notes in the project, “We love creating cool stuff without the big company politics and indecision. We believe in the emerging power of community and the individual to bring ideas to life and we hope that this is just the beginning.” No surprise then that Wilson found his way to Kickstarter, which he views as a tool “to realize many of the ideas that we have in our small studio that we know people will love but big companies are scared to do.”

It’s been roughly three days since Scott Wilson launched the TikTok+LunaTik and already 2,500 people have pledged to the project. A number even more remarkable when you consider that many of the backers don’t even own an iPod Nano, the device for which the TikTok was created. (A quick look at the comments on the project and you will see just how enthused people really are!) Yet people want to explore a new way of digital living simply because Wilson realized that in clock mode, the iPod Nano battery would last a week on a single charge.

It’s extraordinary how Scott Wilson’s experiment demonstrates the changing landscape of design. For as long as we can remember products just appeared. We knew nothing of the production process, or who the device’s authors might be. Not anymore. As Scott Wilson professes in his first project update, “I believe this is a significant milestone in product development history. And you are part of it. Part of what I consider will eventually be a common way for individuals, DIYers, small groups and aspiring entrepreneurs to realize their dreams. And you were there at the beginning.”

We’re right there with you, Scott.