I’ve always been a fan of drawing tablets though I have the toughest time getting my drawings right by using it. I’ve even written extensively on it, comparing the differences of sketching in a traditional sketch book, to sketching on a drawing tablet and finally on a tablet pc. Thus when the Wacom Bamboo tablet was launched, targeted to the non-graphics market such as business professionals and home users, it sparked a great interest and a little worry if it might make my very expensive Intuos3 obsolete.
Like its namesake, Bamboo is extremely versatile, unlocking powerful pen-based features found in current operating systems, especially Microsoftâ€™s Windows Vista, for freehand writing, annotating and navigating on computers.
However i did find a disconnect with their product name and design, sparking my curiosity of the story behind its industrial design roots.
This red-dot 2007 winning concept was designed by SIGNCE (formerly Ziba Europe) and was meant as:
…to reflect a new attitude of working with a computer using a digital pen. Bamboo enables access to the enhanced functionalities of current operating systems such as handwritten input, and lets consumers easily develop their individual style of working.
Source: Official Press Release
But why the name Bamboo?
Alf Hackenberg, head of the design team at SIGNCE in cooperation with Martin Langkau, said: â€œThe central element of Bamboo is its new round â€˜Touch Ringâ€™ for navigation located on the upper edge of the product, allowing an intuitive and ergonomic control of important commands. The additional â€˜ExpressKeysâ€™ correspond with the Touch Ring, and the stylish blue backlight to provide easy access to often used functions.â€
The appearance of Bamboo impresses with contrasting high gloss finished and elegant matt surfaces and is black with illuminated keys. Black was chosen for its stylish look and to meet the aesthetic needs of both Mac and PC users.
Alf Hackenberg continues: â€œThe high-value product aesthetics are created by the signature combination of different surface characteristics that are consequently applied to all elements of the product including the Bamboo pen, pen stand and tablet. In addition, the black colour makes the tablet appear stylish, emotional and almost mystical.â€
Source: Official Press Release
Looks like Alf was not the designer as he sounds like he is struggling to explain the concept. When I first saw the name, (ie before the pictures as my email filters them out) I imagined a Chinese poet or artist sitting with his paper rolls and composing with his “Mao Pi” or Bamboo brush. I must admit to being a little shocked once I looked at the images but I can see where they are coming from in their initial concept development. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great looking product both in aesthetics and functionally, but I just cannot reconcile the name and its form or finish.
I suppose at the end of the day it might be better that a concept name should stay as just that, a concept name.