Dell? Splashy Design? Yep

My co-worker Reena Jana has an interesting story about how Dell is tackling design, trying to transform its once-stodgy PCs. Behind the new approach is Ed Boyd, a successful designer for Nike.

Dell plans to roll out the first three laptops with these colorful designs on Nov. 11, in time for the holiday season. Customers will pay an extra $75 for the designs, on top of the basic $699 price tag for the company’s budget-line portables. The designs are from Nigerian painter Joseph Amédokpo, South African graphic artist Siobhan Gunning, and Canadian designer Bruce Mau.

For Boyd, this is just a start, though. Next year, Dell will let buyers customize laptops in a dizzying number of ways, mixing scores of colors, patterns, and textures. The options will go far beyond the handful of choices available from most of its rivals. In essence, Boyd is taking the Nike approach of letting people design their own sneakers, and trying to apply it to the world of computers. “We’re pushing the idea of [made-to-order computers] to the next level,” says Boyd.