is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Vice President of User Experience at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. You can reach him through one of the services below.+
For my birthday a few weeks ago I received this Tivoli Model One table radio as a gift from my mother. It’s basically a very simple, very solidly built AM/FM tuner. Here’s what came in the box: the radio itself and a power cable. Oh, and a brief manual that I didn’t even bother reading.
Set-up took about a minute: attach the cable to the back of the unit and then plug it into a wall and it was working. The tuning dial feels so substantial in its turning motion — incredibly precise, incredibly well-manufactured — that it has the feel of luxury. Not the flashy, superficial notion that passes for most luxury these days, which is really more about price tags than build quality. Rather this radio exudes a truly ‘high end’ sensibility that suggests enough thought and care have been invested in its design and engineering that the whole unit could last several decades.
I know that radio designers and engineers have almost a century of best practices and technological refinement at their backs when they sit down to create a product like the Model One. And it’s perhaps unrealistic to expect that today’s constantly changing networked technology products could work like this, could be so simple and solid. But it still made me wish that all electronic products could offer an out-of-the-box experience as satisfying as this. (Get yours at Amazon through this link and I get a little kickback.)+