Visual culture on the iPad

With the recent launch of the Guardian’s Eyewitness app and Phaidon’s Design Classics digital edition, the iPad is already proving a tempting medium for design and photography projects

Dieter Rams’ TP1 phone radio (1959) in Design Classics

With the recent launch of the Guardian’s Eyewitness app and Phaidon’s Design Classics digital edition, the iPad is already proving a tempting medium for design and photography projects…

The Phaidon Design Classics iPad Edition reformats the contents of its enormous book (first published in 2006) which contains some fantastic images of 1,000 of some of the world’s best designed objects.

The app has just been made available on the App Store, priced at $19.99 (it will be £11.99 in the UK, but as Apple has recently announced, the international iPad launch has gone back to late May).

Renzo Rivolta’s Isetta (1952)

From the images we’ve seen of the iPad version of Phaidon’s design encyclopaedia, it certainly looks like a sleek interpretation of the three-volume printed edition, doing away with the cumbersome carry/display case in the process.

In the Design Classics iPad edition the objects are organised chronologically, accessible via a timeline on the right side of the screen and there is a wealth of archival photographs, original sketches, patents, prototypes alongside information about the product, designer, manufacturer and the object’s historical context. More information on the Design Classics book and digital edition, here.

Meanwhile the Guardian has said that its Eyewitness iPad app, which compiles all the images from the centre DPS that runs in the newspaper, has been downloaded 50,000 times in its two weeks of being on the App Store. It’s also the 6th most downloaded free app in the US at the moment, so a demand for viewing large scale, beautifully shot photography on the iPad is certainly there.

What with ustwo’s recent Granimator app that Gavin blogged about here, it looks like there may well be a crop of art and design related apps forthcoming, that take advantage of the iPad’s crisp display screen.

Jeremy over on magCulture has had a look through some of the more creative publications to have released iPad editions so far, most notably the Marvel comics app, which has already had a rather successful conversion to the iPhone too (I was perusing a great Hulk story earlier which brilliantly mimics the way you read a comic, panel-to-panel, without disregarding the overall look and design of the page as a whole).

It’s early days of course, but it’s encouraging to see some really nice looking, large-scale visual products transferring well to a format that people are only just starting to play with.

One issue that will no doubt emerge as a talking point for many however is the pricing system of iPad apps. Phaidon’s Design Classics’ $20 price tag seems fairly hefty and some magazines have come in for criticism for their $5 rates. The Eyewitness app is free, but then essentially offers content that’s available already via the Guardian website, though at a much improved size and clarity. 

(Of course, there’s also the new iPhone app for the CR Annual to look forward to. That will be available at the App Store when the Annual edition of the magazine hits the shops next week). 

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