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Design inspiration is a capricious thing, and a fun game for design fans is trying to deduce what a form may have been inspired by. For example the very first wood joint designed by early man was a crude mortise-and-tenon, a shaft that fit into a bored-out hole; documentation of its inspiration is non-existent, but I'm willing to bet the inventor wasn't a virgin.
One design we were excited to see is the new case that Apple designed for the iPad 2, unveiled yesterday. Japanese viewers of Apple's media event must have all tilted their heads and leaned forward at once when the case was revealed, as it looks rather similar to a certain domestic item popular in Japan:
On the left is a furo no futa, a bathtub lid used in Japan to keep the water warm. I'd seen them in the houses of natives when I'd lived there, but never used one myself, so I don't recall if it was magnetized; Apple's iPad case is, cleverly using integrated magnets to retain different positions and signal to the iPad whether it is open or closed, which awakens the iPad or puts it to sleep.
The flip side of trying to predict what a design was inspired by is trying to guess the user behavior that will result from a particular design. I can just about guarantee some Japanese users of the iPad 2 will have a home screen that looks like the inside of a bathtub. And it's just a matter of time before someone invents floating bath toys shaped like icons.(more...)