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With commoditisation constantly knocking on the door of the PC industry, every player — large and small — is racing to embrace new means of differentiating its offerings from the rest of the pack.

An increasingly popular avenue among laptop makers is to collaborate with renowned designers, regardless of where they hail from within the design milieu. Sadly, most of these ‘micro makeovers’ — which start out so promisingly — often fall far from their lofty beginnings, turning into token re-skinning affairs.

So what happens when a collaboration is allowed to develop beyond thinly-veiled attempts at re-skinning? ASUS offers not one, but two, recent examples.

The Eee PC Seashell Karim Rashid Collection

I originally developed about 50 designs for ASUS. From them, we edited the designs to select a form and feel that is interesting, original — very textural and rich.”

- Karim Rashid

The first is the recently announced Eee PC Seashell Karim Rashid Collection (the Eee PC 1008P). The eponymous collaborator is one of the most prolific designers of his generation, boasting over 3,000 designs in production and having lent his prodigious talents to projects spanning interiors, consumer electronics, furniture and luxury goods.

The Eee PC 1008P is a complete re-envisioning of the netbook, entailing new breakthroughs in material, production and finishing technology. Rashid — widely dubbed the plastic poet — brought his wealth of knowledge on the use of plastics to the project. The result was a truly unique ‘digi-wave’ finish that enwraps the netbook from top to bottom, a stellar realisation of an ambitious idea that bears an incontrovertible sophistication that only comes with vast experience.

“[The digi-wave finish] is a fluid, data-driven form that speaks of our non-stop digital landscape,” Rashid reveals. “The almost-natural ‘waves’ seem to ripple, creating dynamic movement. And that is our world today, in constant inertia and motion… Through a lot of hard work and research, we managed to turn our conceptual aspirations into a really hip, trendy gadget.”

The ASUS NX90 laptop by David Lewis


David Lewis

I want to find a new perception of the laptop, or at least move the perception forward.”

- David Lewis

The second product of a thorough collaboration — the ASUS NX90 laptop — is no less noteworthy. Like the Eee PC 1008P, the NX90 was designed from the ground up, and all preconceived notions of what a multimedia laptop should look like were promptly consigned to the bin of cliché.

Acclaimed designer David Lewis, the owner of Copenhagen-based drawing office David Lewis Designers and recipient of numerous international design awards for his work on Bang & Olufsen products, was set on designing something special. And he succeeded quite magnificently with the NX90.

The ASUS NX90 boasts a number of firsts — a polished aluminium finish crafted with the care usually bestowed on bespoke musical instruments, dual touchpads which afford users DJ-like control over their multimedia, and two massive speakers that are mounted on the lid instead of the laptop’s main body to reduce the pickup of mechanical noise during audio playback.

“With the NX90, I hope to target customers who want a laptop good enough to enter the living room and take the central position,” said Lewis. “I envision the NX90 appealing to people who take pride in what their house interiors look like… people who may not be afraid to stand out a little from the crowd.”

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