Video game consoles are entering an important new era: instead of the cheesy, childlike designs that relegate the console to the floor (or tucked away in a hiding place), there’s an effort to make consoles appear inconspicuous in the overall landscape of entertainment center. Carl Ledbetter, Sr. Principal Creative Director Xbox Industrial Design at Microsoft, spoke frequently about walking that line in developing the Xbox One onstage Tuesday at Roadmap 2013.
“We wanted to strike the balance between a pure form that feels like it’s an invited member of the home,” Ledbetter explained.
But the Xbox One not only has to fit aesthetically alongside a cable box or a flat-screen TV — it also has to fit in with its technological brethren at Microsoft. Ledbetter explained that the system’s smooth edges and shiny resins are meant to look like it came from the same design concept as the Surface or a Windows Phone, which is a departure from the Xbox 360′s iconic white structure. But Ledbetter adds that this design decision is part of the unified organization Microsoft is just now embarking on.
“They do share one common design language. It hasn’t happened before, and it’s something we want to take further,” Ledbetter said.
On top of it all, the Xbox One is designed to be “friendly.” From the new controller that is meant to be much easier to hold for the 40 percent of women who use the device to taking UI cues from Windows in order to create a simplified UI, Ledbetter stressed that the Xbox One is meant to be accessible to everyone while also pushing the boundaries of what the system can offer technologically.
“We still have the Xbox 360, and part of our challenge was that we’re offering more entertainment through Xbox One,” Ledbetter explained. “We’re making the design and concept of the system echo that.”