My son and I have been dipping into Taschen's Design of the 20th Century and, at only eight-years-old, he asked me why the design things like TVs, phones and stereos look so bland recently.
Only a few years ago, companies like au here in Japan had their own design projects going, producing lovely phones like the Infobar, designed by Naoto Fukasawa (pictured below). Although the Infobar is still available (I think), it looks just like all the other smartphones out there - a big bit of glass.
We were looking at TVs the other week and had to look for the makers' labels to distinguish them, the only other distinguishing feature being the price.
I'm a fan of minimalism, but that doesn't mean designs have to be devoid of character. Dieter Rams' designs feature twice here for good reason - I'd much prefer the FS 80 TV he designed for Braun (below) to most things on the market today.
I also understand the desire/need to want to be a technology leader, or want to focus on UX design, but that should be part of the design strategy anyway. I can't help feeling that more focus on technology is leading to a glut of boring, barely distinguishable products that are decidedly unappealing.
There are designers and studios out there capable of designing beautiful products with more technology than most people will ever need - or want.
Let's hope more companies ask them to do so.