Good Vibrations: How Lenovo™ Crowdsourced the Cover Design of its New Yoga™ 920 Vibes

We now live in an era where consumer tastes are changing at the speed of social.  Not surprisingly, this is encouraging hardware makers that want their business to keep pace and create solutions designed to transcend gender, age, culture and geography.

Where once upon a time it was okay to ask, ‘Will it play in Peoria?’ today we recognize our products need to resonate with consumers in Delhi as well as Berlin, Milan and Beijing. And personalization is a cornerstone to these efforts. At Lenovo, we’re creating technologies with the digital DNA to adapt to users’ unique needs (think integrated fingerprint readers for biometric authentication, voice-enabled digital assistants and more).

Hardware design aesthetics like PC covers, on the other hand, can be highly subjective. Getting the right design aesthetic that will resonate with buyers in Tokyo as well as Sydney can be a tall order even for the most seasoned in-house designers. So we opted for an entirely new approach when it came to designing the new Lenovo™ Yoga™ 920 2-in-1 convertible laptop – one that would enable some of the world’s most ambitious design trendsetters to create their own aesthetic.

When in Rome Milan

Working with Italy’s prestigious Istituto Europeo di Design (IED Milan), we created a contest soliciting design concepts for the new Yoga 920’s special Gorilla Glass cover. The mission was to design a special Yoga 920 cover that would appeal to today’s global consumer, who want the performance, portability and versatility of a premium laptop but in an inspired, eye-catching design. The entry would secure its designer a scholarship from Lenovo.  

Student designers at the headquarters of Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) in Milan, Italy

With 11 locations around the world and 10,000 students representing more than 100 nationalities, IED Milan was a great place to start for brainstorming a global design. The campaign kicked off with over 130 candidates across Design, Fashion, Visual Arts, and Communication submitting designs judged by a joint panel of seasoned designers from the institute and Lenovo.

As expected, the submissions represented a dazzling display of cover design interpretations. After considerable deliberation, the panel of judges selected Louis Aymonod’s ‘Vibes of Elegance’ as the contest winner.

The winning cover design ‘Vibes of Elegance’ by student designer Louis Aymonod

The winning design, which would become the Lenovo Yoga 920 Vibes, is perhaps best described as an undulating carpet of lines consisting of pale-to-white dots against an onyx-colored backdrop that gives the glass cover a sense of movement or, what Aymonod describes as, “visual vibration.”

Designed to accentuate the Yoga 920’s ultra-thin profile and structural simplicity – clean, smooth edges, absence of external complexities, precision-machined watchband hinge – the cover design creates stunning, 3-dimensional visual combinations that hint at the enormous creative and productive potential lurking just beneath its dynamically choreographed surface.

Which is precisely the impulse driving Aymonod’s design. We recently caught up with the 21-year-old artist from Villeneuve, a tiny town in northwestern Italy’s Aosta Valley.

A Discussion with the Artist

Q: Your design is clean, uncomplicated, yet sophisticated. How much did the Yoga 920’s streamlined chassis influence your cover design choices?

Aymonod: It was essential that I understood Lenovo’s internal design choices so that there was coherence between the design and the product: high-end materials, chromatic palette, elegant profile and sophisticated finishes all needed to work together. Ultimately, it needed to present a sense of harmonious unity, as if the entire product had been conceived by a single mind.

Q: Your title and description mention the concept of vibration. How much did the computational power of the Yoga 920 play into that particular aesthetic?

Aymonod: I wanted the cover design to speak to the computer as something more than a physical, static device. Nowadays, computers are intelligent systems that interact with the user in increasingly humanistic ways – simply, intuitively, proactively. So I used a dynamic composition to create a sense of vibration, which to me emphasizes the vitality and human side of the laptop. The pulsating lines that propagate through space give the cover a sense of being alive, of enormous potential beneath the lid.

21-year-old Louis Aymonod designed the cover of Yoga 920 Vibes

Q: What was the biggest inspiration behind your design concept?

Aymonod: Nature always represents a reference point for me because I see the mathematical laws of nature as design instruments themselves, choreographing harmonic relationships between life’s myriad, disparate parts. So no matter how numerous or complex or multifaceted the parts, at their core is always the greatest simplicity and in that simplicity more sophisticated combinations are born. So in ‘Vibes of Elegance,’ I used a simple, two-dimensional element – the dot – as the essence to all possible lines and shapes. The harmony of the cover composition lies in the balance of that basic dot linking to other dots in a system of lines that expand into space, much the way that nature’s other building blocks – atoms, molecules, cells – form increasingly sophisticated, dynamic forms of expression.

Q: As our world shrinks and brands like Lenovo reach a truly global population, how excited were you at the prospect of seeing your design potentially reach billions?

Aymonod: Knowing that my design might reach a worldwide audience enabled me to create an approach totally independent of a particular cultural or social background. It was extremely challenging and I feel honored to have been selected to compete and win.

Q: What are the benefits of a multinational company like Lenovo crowdsourcing a design through an organization like Istituto Europeo di Design?

Aymonod: I think this kind of collaboration benefits both parties. Students enjoy an important opportunity to work with an international brand, to fully understand and appreciate the complexities and dynamics of global product development, and of course to have the chance to see their work showcased in major product like this. For companies like Lenovo, it’s a chance to test the creative potential and perspectives of a pool of young, talented designers. Lenovo is a good fit for a project like this because it already has a fresh, energetic, positive character that seems geared toward younger people. So investing in young designers helps the company connect even more intimately with the younger minds that will design tomorrow’s world in every way imaginable.

Specs for Lenovo Yoga 920 can be found at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/6tlb0ni9lf2absl/AABnnO1CpeQ_fyzcW1fLTXUja/Spec%20Sheets?dl=0&preview=Yoga+920+Vibes.pdf

Full 2017 IFA press kit at http://news.lenovo.com/IFA2017 

Discover more at www.lenovo.com/ifa.

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