Comments on Design Anthropology

Home » Uncategorized » Dysfunctional Minimalism

Dysfunctional Minimalism

Start here


I’m a bit of a camera fan I must admit, and even (slightly ashamedly) don’t mind a bit of retroism when it comes to my cameras. However, Jonathan Ives and Marc Newson have got their hands on a Leica and done this to it….




Jony Ive, design mastermind at Apple, and Marc Newson, the creative force behind the thoroughly unconventional Pentax K-01, have collaborated with Leica to design a special edition Leica M for a good cause. The unique M will be sold at auction, at an event raising money for The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The one-of-a-kind camera is the product of 85 days’ work and no less than 1000 prototype parts.

The finished result is a good deal more restrained than Newson’s last attempt at camera design, and betrays Ive’s obsessive focus on details which is usually showcased in Apple’s line of computers and mobile devices. But despite the eye-catching brushed aluminum shell and rounded accents, the finished camera is still unmistakably a Leica. What do you think of it? Let us know in the comments.


On someone describes this as ‘dysfunctional minimalism’ and I think this is a good way to describe the design ethos of Ives and Apple, and to some degree Newson as well. There is a kind of ‘fetishism’ at play in the current design paradigm, which is either an obsession with reductionism for it’s own sake, or a kind of “snickering behind the hand” kind of pandering to the public, as if they are not sophisticated enough to handle anything more complex, or dare we say it, functional.


There’s nothing terribly clever about reductional minimalism.  Start with a box, add some bits, stop adding bits when things get too messy. Yeah I’m being sarcastic, but what is exactly wrong with say adding an SD card so people control their own content, have some sort of self-determination? When does the desire of the brand to so rigidly conform to a minimalist ideal trump functionality? Should consumers be offended that a brand thinks that the cohesiveness of their brand image is more important than the wants of the consumer themselves? Should we all be offended that we’re forced to comply to someone else’s ethos, rather than have something that merely serves as a platform for which we can express our own?


Okay so this is more of a jibe at Apple, but this Leica is really just the silver cherry on top.  Even worse is that fact that it’s a one-off, so basically a toy for the rich (an a do-good vehicle for Ives and Newson which also aligns them with Leica, so nice symbiosis there).


If both of these entities were such bleeding hearts, why not do something with what you’re already got?  Both are huge contributors to environmental and health concerns already – electronic waste is now the biggest environmental concern for the earth, and with the previous mental health issues at Foxconn – I dunno….. why not develop a recyclable iPhone?  Why not donate 1% of all of your earnings to AIDS prevention in Africa, if you’re that concerned about it?





  1. Too true. Another bit of eye candy for us consumerists and selling a brand, and on the side it makes some money for a cause 😛

  2. Desanthro says:

    Apparently you can sin as much as you like… long as you make an elitist piece of fluff to sell to some rich guy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: