Idan Cohen on Developing a Passion for Building Products

In Chapter 8 of 19 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, Boxee co-founder and head of product Idan Cohen answers "What is the Source of Your Passion for Building Things?"  Cohen references his joy creating beautiful products or useful devices.  He appreciates a holistic product design process and compares it to the 20th century Golden Age of furniture design. 

This is Idan Cohen's Year 1 Capture Your Flag interview.  Cohen is co-founder and head of product at Boxee Inc, an online video software company.  Previous to Boxee, Cohen held telecom software innovation and developer roles at Comverse.  He was a Captain in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and graduated from Tel Aviv University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Geophysics and Art.


Erik Michielsen: What is the source of your passion for building things?

Idan Cohen: It’s basically creating beautiful useful devices or products that are also—I put a lot of emphasis to how the process—what is the process like. A lot of things can look very nice from, you know, from outside or from the surface, like I really appreciate for instance, Apple for actually engineering the inside of their computers, and making them look beautiful. 

It’s magnificent when you open, like the Mac mini which is probably the most negligent product Apple is doing, but it has this beautiful thing that when you open it and when you look inside it’s just beautifully laid out, and I’m sure that they have actual people that are in charge of making that look nice, so for me, it’s all about the whole process being, you know, holistic and very aesthetically pleasing. So at the end of the process, it’s about creating something that’s functional but you really enjoy the process. 

So I like working with materials, software is somewhat of a material designed in a lot of—you know, that’s pretty great how the last 5 years were not about the actual technology, but much more about the user experience and the design, because I think that the design is much more coming closer to kind of like the golden age of furniture probably in around like, you know, the previous century, which was much more creating beautiful things, and putting an emphasis on materials. So it’s somewhere between these—and that’s what I’m attracted to, I really, really—it’s not about software, it’s not about internet, it’s about products.