I’m late to the party, but I just watched the HP Envy design video. Oh my. It’s a really stunning piece of work that makes me wonder if HP’s designers are suffering from some kind of Stockholm Syndrome, or whether they’re just delusional.

If you’ve not seen the HP Envy, it’s like a MacBook Pro knock-off made by some dodgy Chinese company, with a horrible volume knob glued to the side and that your kid’s drawn on (carefully, mind) in felt-tip pen. (HP calls these elements ‘colour accents’, rather than ‘a really shit idea that looks horribly out of place and distracts from the otherwise somewhat clean design’ or ‘a desperate attempt to try and make people think we haven’t actually ripped off Apple’).

Some choice quotes from the video:

The first goal was to create a super-clean high-end design, and we did that in the geometry we chose

Presumably by popping to the nearest Apple Store and going “we’ll rip off… that one” and pointing to a MacBook Pro.

The second one was a level of honesty. That was really a key goal.

Honesty that doesn’t extend quite so far as to admit that the design is a total rip-off of something that already exists, natch.

The materials that we used were really true to this core attribute of honesty.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean the materials include “we ripped off Apple and we’re really sorry” being burned into the base of every model.

The last one was really key as we brought Beats Audio into the Envy landscape.

It’s always a good idea when you bring another company into the mix, because that never compromises your design aesthetic.

We wanted to […] visualise the audio and go beyond the sense or the audible sound of the Beats with Envy

“We were told that we had to somehow integrate the Beats Audio branding.”

You’ll notice with the product that we integrated a volume wheel that has what I call interaction gravity

And what I call a large volume knob oddly and intrusively shoved on to the side of a notebook. Still, I guess HP’s research must have shown that volume control was something people needed to mess with all of the time, and that existing media keys for doing so were just too hard for people to understand. Either that or it’s a stupid gimmick, in part demanded as part of the co-branding with Beats…

That is what pulls people into the product to interact with it

Unlike, say, the keyboard and the screen. Or perhaps they have ‘interaction gravity’ too. Man, my pen, which I just used to scribble a note, also has interaction gravity! As does the notepad! And my desk! And my chair! INTERACTION GRAVITY IS EVERYWHERE!

It allows the user a finite control of audio

As opposed to an infinite control of audio, which would be bad.

It feels a lot like a high-end stereo knob […] and it’s something we prototyped time and time again […] so we got this sense of quality

This bit’s at 1:45 and there’s a palpable sense of depression coming from the designer as he says “time and time again”. It’s like he’s trying to scream: “They forced us to improve the knob. Time and time again! THEY WOULDN’T LET US LEAVE UNTIL THE KNOB WAS PERFECT!”

Envy is about the beauty of the details

Details mostly designed several years ago by Apple. Well, bar the numeric keyboard that forces the trackpad to be oddly left-of-centre. That’s detail.

Has that next layer of design when you start to engage it

I have engaged you, notebook! Show me your next level of design!

When you open it up, it’s a little like Christmas

What, in that you thought you were getting something great, but when you open the box you see your aunt’s bought you a fucking Gobot instead of a Transformer?

In that there’s quite a few things inside the product that really draw your attention

Oh, OK. That’s just what I think of when someone mentions Christmas: things inside a product that really draw your attention. Man, Christmas round designer bloke’s house must be a laugh riot.

Colour accents that tie us into Beats Audio

Ah, the next layer of design: a horrible red stripe inside the keyboard. Mmm.

It’s a product that creates envy

Mostly on the part of the design team, who wish they were working for Apple.