Today I stumbled on the Ozo Watch, winner of the prestigious Red Dot Best Design awards 2010.  Here's why I would never have submitted this particular design and how I misunderstood the Awards process.

Broken UI

As a designer I am watching design "all-across-the board" for inspiration, and I'm finding one disturbing trend amongst what I find: Unrealistic concepts.  Even unrealistic concepts can be inspiring, and hence have value, but let's not cheat ourselves with the "suspension of disbelief" in UI designs.  A common example is UI that wouldn't pass translation into other languages:  I often see beautiful UI concepts, that would be handed straight back to the design team if it were to be translated into German - it simply wouldn't be workable as a design anymore.  But onwards...

The Ozo Watch

The Ozo watch design is a another example:  It looks like a fun and innovative design interface, we are all impressed by it.  Would you wear it?  Possibly, even.  But that is beside the point, this is merely a "concept". I look at this watch and I think - that's clever, I wish I had designed it.

Look Closely

But then I look closely and I realise that, even if I had thought of it, I would never have submitted this particular design, in the belief it wouldn't pass the meticulously analytical Red Dot Best of Design award panel judges.  Here's why:

1. Is it 4 in the morning or evening? Ok, this is not such a big issue, even analog watches don't make this differentiation.

2. What does the dot between 5 & 10 (on the minutes dial) represent? 7.5?  Who reads the time as 4.37.5?  That dot shouldn't really be there.  So although I forgive Anton, and appreciate the thought, I can't forgive the Red Dot Award Panel: Did they see the dot issue and think "well, whatever, it doesn't matter, this is just a concept" or worse, did they not even notice?

  1. What does midnight look like? 120. Unless you are totally wasted you know it's midnight, I guess.  But still, 12 0  is hardly good UI to represent twelve o'clock.

  2. The Egg Timer - If the lower dial was at 35 "and a half" (i.e. the time was on the 37-minutes-and-30-seconds dot) the black egg-timer-shaped-device would actually obscure the two nearest numbers - meaning it would actually be quite difficult to quickly see the time.  The device designed for clarity quickly becomes the exact opposite.

UX first, maybe some UI

This design is a triumph for UX over UI.  Style over common-sense. I extend my warmest love to Anton for innovative concept design as I dust off  all those old concept designs where I thought, "mmm, no, that won't work", and I hand them confidently to the Red Dot Best Design Award panel judges.

NB: I'd just like to add that I am not disparaging Anton's concepts here: I love them, I think they're great - they inspire me.  I hope the terrible quality of my writing doesn't sound too cynical.  I am no writer.

What I want to say is that now I understand that the imagination of the concept is more important than some pesky details, and so I shouldn't let that stop me getting involved.