Designing Products and Designing Cases

Industrial design has always had to fight the belief that designers are simply decorating a functional object. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that designers started manipulating materials in a way that the world started looking at products as designed objects and not just functional tools.

Jump to the present day, corporations are hiring designers left and right to try to make their products on the cutting edge. Apple has been at the forefront of the market in computers, mp3 players, and recently mobile phones. Having just purchased my iPhone and joined the smartphone world, my post will focus on that.

Along with my iPhone, i purchased two items: a screen protector and a case. This made me think: Apple spent countless hours developing the iPhones interface and physical form. As the end user, I bought the phone for these reasons and feel that the device itself it an elegant piece of design. I do not want to scratch it, dent it, or in any other way hinder the design. So what do I do? I put the phone in a case. I no longer see the clean plastic back, the sharp edges or the overall form obssessed over by Apple designers for so long.

So my question is two fold:
When does an object become so well designed that people are afraid to use it in its natural form for fear of breaking it
and
When should a case be designed, used, and obssessed over as much as the form it supports?

Cases are by their very nature a protective service against the elements. But when we are dependent on a shell and that is all we see, the case should be attractive as well. There is a limit though – for if the case is too attractive then would we need a protector for our protector?

What are the limits on clean design and when is too much reached?

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