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Xbox One Design is Supposed to be "Understated"

Xbox One designer says the simple black box is by design, not by accident.

By Mike Williams. Published 9 months ago

Today at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference, Xbox creative director of industrial design Carl Ledbetter showed off the work that went into creating the black box that is the Xbox One. Ledbetter is part of a worldwide team of 30 within Microsoft tasked with designing the console and its related peripherals.

Ledbetter said the team's starting point was to make it "simple and accessible" for users to access all the content available on Xbox One. He explained that Microsoft wanted to carry the same software design language across the Xbox One, Windows 8, and Windows Phone. Ledbetter also revealed that the Xbox One is a simple black box for a reason.

"Xbox is more than just games, it does all the entertainment people want," he said onstage. "We wanted to make it understated. We wanted to make Xbox approachable. We wanted to make it simple and elegant. We wanted it to be crafted and tailored. Using those principles, we started to design."

Microsoft used an in-house 3D model shop to build physical prototypes, which then went into the homes of employees to see how each design fit into current media centers. Ledbetter said the front of the system was made to look "high-quality, just like the high-definition televisions in people's living rooms."

The design team also worked hard on the Xbox One controller, building "over 200 models" with Microsoft's in-house 3D printing. The D-pad on the controller has been improved and the thumbsticks feature a brand-new micro-texture to prevent slippage. The design word for the Xbox One console may have been "architectural", but word for the controller was "ergonomic."

"We found that people, when you put these in their hands, can tell the difference between a tenth of the millimeter in size. We've made it more comfortable, we've made the new controller fit a larger range of hand sizes," said Ledbetter.

All of this led to a better Xbox One, but is it a design gamers will have an affinity for this holiday?

The best community comments so far 2 comments

  • Alpha Unit 9 months ago

    Liking the controller but not the new Betamax.

  • Spazgadget 9 months ago

    I keep trying to be objective about this design, but... I just cannot find much to love about this. It looks heavy, monolithic, and sort of cheap to me, which I'm imagining is the opposite of what they were going for. That said, I wasn't a particular fan of either the PS3's or the 360's original hardware designs, so I suppose there's always room for improvement...

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