BlackBerry Priv design

As has become a bit of a tradition when releasing a new device, BlackBerry has now posted up an interview with the design team behind the companies latest creation. Lead Industrial Designer, Michael DeFazio and two members of the Priv design team - Principal Mechanical Architect Aaron Allen and Senior Industrial Designer Cortez Corley offer a closer look at the design influences, inspiration and goals behind the Priv.

Walker: What are some of your design philosophies that influenced the PRIV?

Michael DeFazio, Industrial Designer: Empathy is not a new philosophy or approach to design, however it can be quite easy as a designer to get caught up in aesthetics and forget about who you are designing for. We had to listen closely to what people were saying. We had to solve the app ecosystem problem – Android was the answer. We needed to find a way to offer the tactile physical keyboard people love without compromising the full-touch experience people have grown to appreciate. The camera has become a vital tool in people's lives, so we integrated an 18MP Schneider-Kreuznach certified camera which captures stunning images consistently and immediately. People are struggling with battery life globally … not getting through a full day on a single charge, so we needed a big battery. This concept of listening to people's needs was simple. The challenge was finding a creative way to weave it all together into a single device with a purposeful, compact, robust, user friendly and modern design.

Walker: What was the main inspiration behind the PRIV?

DeFazio: It is a contemporary take on a familiar form factor, the slider. Moving to Android meant we had the challenge of integrating our physical keyboard into a device with a large 16:9 display, so we had to find an intelligent way to conceal the keyboard in order to maintain a compact footprint. We wanted the industrial design to reflect the notion of Privacy. It is sleek and quiet with subtle elements of intrigue that make you want to pick it up.

Walker: What were your major design goals for the PRIV and how did you achieve them?

DeFazio: The main goal for PRIV was to create a device that is an uncompromised experience in both states, touch and type. In the closed position, the device was to be comparable in size to full-touch devices on the market, without sacrificing robustness, thinness, ergonomics or design. In the open position, the device had to provide the confident, precise typing experience BlackBerry is known for. I believe this is measured through the surprise users get when they reveal the keypad for the first time. The form is uninterrupted except for a small step at the bottom of the device, providing visual and ergonomic affordance (note: a design term that reflects something used as a visual guide about how to interact with an object) to indicate where the display slides, magically exposing the touch-sensitive keyboard.

Cortez Corley, Industrial Designer: My favorite design feature is the unibody rear housing. The surface contouring and the soft touch coating make it comfortable to hold and the speaker pattern and woven-glass fiber pattern add visual interest.

If you tuned into the BerryFlow podcast earlier, you would have heard us discussing how the Priv, when toredown, looked to be a pretty impressive feat of engineering. Something this interview helps further explain as DeFazio noted BlackBerry engineers pushed the limits of materials and processes to bring the Priv to life. Be sure to check out the full interview.

A Conversation with the Designers Behind the PRIV (Q&A, Pics)