As the digital age changes our notion of what product design is, designers require a new range of skills for their ideas to be marketable, says Portable.tv’s Andrew Apostola.
February 3rd, 2012
Andrew Apostola was travelling around the United States in 2005 when Apple launched its first iPod with video capability. Youtube was still in its early days, and the iTunes video store had just a few channels available.
Recognising the potential of reaching people through alternative modes of broadcasting, Apostola called up his friend Simon Goodrich – with whom he had long wanted to collaborate – and the pair developed a concept for audiences to access quality video online.
It all started with the Portable Film Festival, which aimed to challenge the conventional notion of a film festival (2009 saw the launch of Portable.tv, the daily blog version of the film fest). Next came an event series featuring influential minds from a range of different fields – “we had a lot of heroes,” Apostola says – which has grown to become Portable Talks, travelling seminar sessions featuring thought leaders from the creative industries.
Portable’s upcoming seminar is perhaps the most topical yet. Entitled Product Design 2012, the session will explore what it means to develop products in the digital age, when our conventional ideas of what a product can be have undergone a radical shift.
“We’ve had a liberation in things like video and sound,” Apostola says. “People can easily make these products. Traditional notions of what a product is are being challenged.”
Whereas product designers once needed a design background to create physical things, “now we’re moving into an area where digital and online products are becoming much more popular and accessible… you can create them and exhibit them.”
In the same way that, when founding Portable, Apostola and Goodrich needed to consider specific problems such as building networks around online distribution, modes of access and devices used by audiences to access content, product design in 2012 and beyond requires a particular way of thinking and creating.
“You need a good idea; you need to be a problem solver,” Apostola says.
“You don’t need to be a trained designer; you don’t need to be a developer; it’s more about having that process, being able to look at ideas, bring them to the table, iterate them quickly, bring the good ideas to the forefront and manage that process.”
“There are so many good multi-million dollar ideas out there that most people don’t know need solving, or haven’t been solved yet,” he continues, giving the online ticketing service Eventbrite as an example, as well as the work of Leni Mayo and Shainiel Deo, both of whom will present at Portable Presents Product Design 2012. As the co-founder of 99 Designs, Mayo created an online mechanism for customers to find design services. Deo is CEO of Halfbrick Studios, creators of Fruit Ninja, one of the most downloaded paid iPhone apps in the world.
Apostola and Goodrich, as well as taking part in Portable Presents Product Design 2012, will continue to create products based around technology, video and online this year, launching a new subscription-based product from Portable and presenting another event in April focusing on sound and music.
Portable Presents Product Design 2012 takes place in Brisbane on Tuesday 14 February, Sydney on Wednesday 15 February and Melbourne on Thursday 16 February. Click here for more information on the events and how to register.
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