Steve Jobs and Spirituality in Product Design

A reflective look upon Steve Jobs and Apple can reveal some untold dimension on spirituality. Having listened to his biography by Walter Isaacson recently, the first obvious observation is that his obsession for simplicity partly comes from Eastern spirituality. The manifestation of such spirituality is also a bit paradoxical, if you think of Apple’s high-end segmentation and becoming an idol brand of coolness and status.

One deeper level observation about spirituality and Apple shows itself in Walter Isaacson’s afterlife discussions with Steve Jobs. When reflecting on whether he believes afterlife, he reveals a very thorough design intention on Apple products. If you are a Mac user, you might observe even when you close your iTunes, it still continues to play, there is no real on-off button in Apple. And again, think of the breathing LED function of Mac laptops. Even when the screen is closed, the computer light is drawing breath, in and out.

On reflecting about his afterlife discussion, Jobs makes this explicit comment, that “that is probably why I don’t like to put on off button in my devices.” Manifestations of spirituality in products always fall into two extremes of the spectrum, whether it to be a kitsch object, a jesus sticker on your car, or a real subtle one, like apple’s on-off or breathing behavior.

Not much to say which one is more transcending and sophisticated.

Design Your Life, self-mapping exercise

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