The Technium

Designed in California

We rightly understand that how we arrange atoms is more important than what atoms we use. Same with information. The arrangement is more important than the ingredients. That’s why we crave design.

In one way or other design is what we want. So Apple invented this brilliant piece of marketing a decade ago. On the back of the iPhone it says: “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China.” I really like the idea that California is its own country, on par with China.


Yes, Apple stuff is manufactured in China by robot-like young people in precision synchrony, but it is designed — that high art — in California — where the sun always shines — by wild haired groovy mac guys who like to question authority. At least that is the branded myth.

When Apple launched in China, they made a Chinese version of their slogan for some t-shirts that said the same thing, but in Chinese characters. Read this way, those crazy California kids were working for the Chinese kids.

Shanghai Shirt 500x375

Either way, the marketing is sheer genius. This branding is a whole lot more attractive than Noika’s imitation: Designed in Finland. Made in Korea. (Image from AllAboutMaemo)

Designed in Finland

But recently I’ve noticed the refrain erupting in other places also. For instance the hip sneaker brand Vans claims to be “Designed in California.” See the bottom of the box on a pair of sneakers I purchased for my son today.


I am curious if others have evidence of this same claim by other brands? Send a pic in and I’ll post it here.

Not to be outdone, I want all my readers to know that all the KK* websites are “designed in California.”


Experts may argue contrary, but I don’t think there is a California Style of design yet. But there is a California perspective, or what some in Europe call the California Ideology. The California perspective includes the culture of the screen (Hollywood, games, porno), and hi-tech pharma and health technologies. It is technological, optimistic (protopian, not utopian), slightly libertarian, but also slightly left, very organic and green, and extremely cosmopolitan in an ethnic sense. In this way, many things are Designed in California.

It would be interesting to see what other cultural inventions should be labeled with the tagline, Designed in California. Suggestions?

From the email software PostBox:

From the website/app Flipboard, suggested by Mike Bauerly: “Made with Love in Palo Alto, California.”

The HP touchpad (sent in by Samuel Wade / Shawn Blanc):

The German company Native Instruments, Designed and engineered in Germany! (sent in by Samuel Wade):

This one is found on a Neuton electric mower blade, sent in by Jerry Calleson. It says: “Designed in Vermont by Neuton. Made exclusively for Neuton in Taiwan”
Neuton blade package

The Compaq motherboard, From Chuck Eye, says “Designed by Compaq engineers in Houston Texas”

And the rather lame “Hello from Seattle” on Microsoft’s Zune, from Wayne Whall’s blog.
Zune hello seattle

Any more?


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