Twelve of the slickest designs in enterprise tech gear
See what happens when industrial designers take the reins on enterprise gear design
Consumer devices tend to get all the praise for their designs, but there's plenty of cool equipment to be found in the enterprise market. When hardware vendors tag team with renowned industrial designers, the results can be impressive. Here are some of our favourites.
Aerohive tapped Smart Design for the minimalist HiveAP 300 Series wireless infrastructure equipment, which is designed to blend into its environment. As Smart Design explains: "The corner of the unit is cut away, revealing the technology layers inside. This view to the inside presents a way to easily communicate vital information. The LED light strips inform an IT specialist about the status of each line or when there is an error."
It's an oldie but a goodie. Pano Logic's virtual desktop hardware has a simple, sleek form with a mirrored finish. Designed by Whipsaw, the Pano Zero Client device won a prestigious Red Dot design award in 2008. Says Whipsaw President and CEO Dan Harden: "It is a 'zero client' so I wanted it to be a 'zero design'. The product needed to get out of the way - computing is already too complicated. Pano's monolithic block shape provided this simplicity but also simultaneously gives it power, and even makes reference to its boxy ancestors."
AT&T tapped design firm IDEO for the design of its 3G MicroCell, which acts as a mini cellular tower to boost cell signal performance for voice calls and cellular data applications. It connects to an existing broadband Internet service to create a powerful 3G signal in people's homes and small businesses. "The idea was to convince consumers to showcase MicroCell in their homes and offices, rather than hide it under a desk or in a closet alongside other networking equipment," says IDEO. "Being left out in the open enables better reception for the antenna, helping to improve the device's overall performance."
The sleek Samsung 3D LED Monitor SA950 lets users view content in 2D or 3D. Some models even have real time 2D-to-3D conversion so you can watch 2D content in 3D, Samsung says. An Eco Motion Sensor alerts the monitor when you sit down and when you walk away, automatically powering it on and off.
LaCie's Network Space MAX was designed by Neil Poulton, a Scottish product designer based in Paris. It's part network storage device, part media server. The glossy, black device includes dual hard drives and is available in 2TB and 4TB configurations.
Design firm Whipsaw worked with Cisco on the design of its Umi home videoconferencing platform, which is an extension of Cisco's high end TelePresence line for enterprises. Umi pairs a user's existing high definition TV with Cisco's console device, remote and camera unit.
GE's WattStation was designed by industrial designer Yves Béhar (he's the founder of fuseproject and the designer behind the Jawbone headset). This electric vehicle charger is designed to help accelerate the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles by significantly decreasing time needed for vehicle charging, GE says. The WattStation is available in two versions, a free standing version for use in cities and by businesses and a wall-mounted system for domestic use.
Huawei won a Red Dot product design award for its VP9000 series video conferencing system. The award site lauded the system for the consistency of its interfaces: "This system follows a very unique convergent logic throughout all interaction zones. The layout of the remote control mirrors its equivalent on screen, the on-screen interface also uses the same colours, icons and overall formal language. So even first time users will find it surprisingly easy to set up and use the system."
There's one thing you'll find in every enterprise office environment: Chairs. Yves Béhar was inspired by the principles of suspension bridges, in particular the Golden Gate Bridge, when he designed the new SAYL work chair for furniture industry stalwart Herman Miller. The SAYL's frameless back encourages a full range of movement while the suspension back material keeps you cool, says Herman Miller.
Designer Philippe Starck collaborated with LaCie on the mobile drive that bears his name. The latest iteration is the LaCie Starck Mobile USB 3.0, clad in a polished aluminum casing.
Asus teamed up with Lamborghini for this sporty laptop, released in March. The 15.6-inch Asus-Automobili Lamborghini VX7 is available in the automaker's signature orange, black and carbon fibre colours. The VX7's cooling vents echo the tail lights and exhaust assemblies of Lamborghini cars, and the power button is styled like an engine start key with leather-trimmed palm rests.
It's not an enterprise product, and it wasn't created by a noted industrial designer, but the Polaroid Grey Label GL10 instant mobile printer is too juicy to ignore, seeing as it bears the stamp of Lady Gaga. Due to ship this summer, it's the first product in Polaroid and Lady Gaga's new Polaroid Grey Label line. The printer is designed to work with mobile phones wirelessly via Bluetooth and with digital cameras, PCs and Macs via a USB cable.
What's your favourite vendor/designer collaboration? Tell us in the comments section.