At the same time, the team solicited the opinions of Microsoft executives. Jonathan Hayes, the 37-year-old design director for the Xbox platform, didn’t show them actual models for fear that each executive would pick one to champion. Instead, he asked them to consider four themes: mild, wild, architectural and organic. The original Xbox was certainly on the wild end of the spectrum. And, with its complex geometry and lines, it was architectural as well. Should its successor have the same look? The executives talked about vehicles as a point of comparison. A Hummer had the same wild, architectural sense as the Xbox. On the mild, organic end was the Porsche 911, which had a well-evolved and distilled feel. That’s the look the group eventually settled on. Apple Computer’s iPod is mild, executives said. Mild will still look fresh five years from now. Wild and aggressive will seem dated.
There’s even a chart to show this at the link. Here’s my favorite quote from the story:
The designers tested the concept in prototypes, making everything from subtly curved models to one with shapes so extreme that it was nicknamed the “Fischer-Price nuclear reactor.”