In a forgotten corner of a shelf in a seldom-used media cabinet sit two 40-year old Japanese single reflex cameras (SLRs). One is a Pentax Spotmatic that I inherited from my father, circa 1974 (ish). The other is a Nikon Nikkormat my wife inherited from her father, circa early 80s. They’re heavy as lead, built rock solid. We’ll probably never get rid of them because of the memories and images they evoke. I used mine as a high school senior snapping photos for the yearbook, a lifetime ago.
There’s a simple beauty to them, one that I never noticed until the creative folks at design consultancy Antrepo took the line-style logotype used to etch brand names into all Japanese SLRs (Nikon, Minolta, Pentax, Canon) and used it to reimagine what the logos of the leading digital brands might look like. The results are beautiful and distinctive, even though only simple lines and extended outline fonts are used. Here’s a small sample.
It brings to mind one of my favorite quotes from Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, from the eloquent Jony Ive:
“Why do we assume that simple is good? Because with physical products, we have to feel we can dominate them. As you bring order to complexity, you find a way to make the product defer to you. Simplicity isn’t just a visual style. It’s not just minimalism or the absence of clutter. It involves digging through the depth of the complexity. To be truly simple, you have to go really deep. For example, to have no screws on something, you can end up having a product that is so convoluted and so complex. The better way is to go deeper with the simplicity, to understand everything about it and how it’s manufactured. You have to deeply understand the essence of a product in order to be able to get rid of the parts that are not essential.”
The depth of understanding Jonathan is referring to is all too rare, but it is only at this depth that subtraction can add value.