I got some astonishing material in my hands today. It’s Apple’s material, and it is quite old – but I can assure you that the images are no less revealing and eye-opening. What I can’t figure out, for the life of me, is why Apple did not include this in the latest incarnation of their Human Interface Guidelines, as it is probably the best insight into the design of Aqua icons ever. Get a glimpse of the inception of Aqua inside.
What I saw first was a screenshot from OS 9, showcasing a folder we’ve come to know tightly on pre-Leopard OS X. I really didn’t expect to see it in a 3D studio.
As you can see here, this closely imitates the folder icon we had until Leopard. It appears slightly more curvy, but if you see these icons, that went with the first retail release of OS X, you can see it is, in fact, the very same 3D model being used.
However, this isn’t really the thing I wanted to show you that reveals how our favorite aesthetic came to be. This 3D scene, unfortunately only available to me in low resolution, reveals many things.
My heart skipped a beat when I saw this. If you can’t see what is revolutionary about this, I will detail it for you. In the top right, you can see an icon on a desk, in the exact angle we have come to know it. Below it, you can see a view of a human figure standing before a desk, looking down at the icon’s objects, and the light source on the desk. This 3D scene completely embodies all the aspects of the Human Interface Guidelines, even if you are not a user experience professional or designer. If anything, this post proves the amount of thought that has been put into our ‘aesthetically appealing’ interface may not be obvious at first glance.