Surface Special Edition
November 24, 2022
Microsoft introduces a special edition of the exclusive 2-in-1 device, which is inspired by the Windows 11 desktop wallpaper. It features a Surface Pro Liberty keyboard with Slim Pen 2, which is designed in collaboration between Microsoft Surface and the house of global design, Liberty of London, which is also available in the US, Canada, the UK and Japan.
Elliott Hsu is the lead hardware designer at Microsoft and was the one who led the team that worked and took charge together with Liberty to also create the laser engraved Surface Pro 9 Liberty special edition. Its keyboard is printed, where you can see the floral designs that Liberty is known for, and also where you can see a natural branch of Windows 11 Bloom. “It’s such a contrast of things and you would never expect this to happen in some ways,” mentioned Elliott Hsu.
Bloom was released by Windows 11 in 2021 as the first image on the screen that you can see, this is a desktop wallpaper that also represents a symbolic image of starting over with this operating system, which was created in the digital world and inspired by flowers. Adam Herbert and his design team at Liberty were fascinated by Bloom’s design, and announced that it was “amazing” for him and his team to see how Microsoft created the Bloom flower that symbolizes Windows 11.
On one side we have Liberty designers who use pens, pencils and paper to draw and create, taking inspiration from the real world, and on the other side are Microsoft designers who use technology in almost every step of their creative process.
“I think it is a key figure in the DNA of British design. We create things that feel traditional and also unexpected at the same time. All of our designs start out as a drawing, painting, collage or sketch. It’s a really interesting melting pot of ideas and design approaches,” mentioned Adam Herbert.
For Microsoft and Hsu, Liberty has always inspired them, “From the design standpoint, we had always been inspired by Liberty and what they do, from their craftsmanship to brand ethos.”
The company was established in 1875, and since then they have come and gone and seen many trends come and go, yet they have been able to stay relevant and show many waves with their cyclical designs in fashion.
“What’s magical about their brand is that a 90-year-old and a 19-year-old can wear the same scarf in a different way with the same print, and it works,” said Hsu.
“Whatever we create now goes back into that archive,” said Herbert, as after discovering the vastness of the Liberty archives it is a proud tradition showcasing different eras of the company’s design history in the archives. “We look at designs from 100 years ago and we redraw them and bring them back to life. I love to think that in 100 years, Liberty Designers will look at what we did now and they might revisit our work and use it in a totally different way.”
Microsoft and Liberty
In 2019 Hsu visited Liberty at its headquarters in London, and since then a relationship between Liberty and Microsoft was created, there he wanted to find inspiration to create the design of the brand’s well-known floral prints, and since then he and Herbert understood each other and they managed to base themselves on the Washington state flower, the rhododendron, managing to create a connection between the two brands for the designs.
“PCs and devices have become even more personal to people,” mentioned Hsu, as work had to be paused due to the pandemic, however, he became an integral part of the development of the special edition, “During the pandemic, your PC never went away. It was always on your desk, always on your table. Everything in your personal and professional life came through that portal, which keeps us connected in trying times.”
“Technology had become part of our everyday landscape,” said Herbert, due to the pandemic, had to leave his comfort zone, working from different points with his team, with whom they used to work and make physical presentations with boards, however, they had to use technological means to work, also realizing that how important computers have become during the pandemic for everyone. “Microsoft Teams was our savior in that process. We have different partners all over the world and I think it’s opened up a whole new way of working, which is really exciting.”
It was decided that since Surface’s 10th anniversary was coming up it would be an amazing and perfect opportunity for Herbert and his team at Liberty to take Bloom so they could make it their own style, and that despite having many options for the design of Surface over the years and that with the arrival of Windows 11 the inspiration was complete to create the wonderful design.
The operating system unites both the hardware and the software that was also included along with the floral design, and in the special edition of the device we can find an exclusive Liberty 11 Windows 11 theme, “Liberty owns florals in the fashion sense. And we created this operating system that has a floral design,” Hsu mentioned.
Liberty’s core identity is flowers and floral designs, although they had not worked on a digital flower design, Herbert says that “We’ve never really begun from a starting point of something that’s a digitally created flower, ” and Bloom was an important project. “It felt important with the Microsoft project to do something that felt very intrinsically Liberty,” also mentioned Herbert.
Likewise, for Herbert, laser-engraved floral design was like fine jewelry, as you have the world of fashion and the world of technology together in one product and design. And as he also mentioned, collaborations are the union of two worlds with a bridge, where things from one world apply to the other and vice versa.
“We have a 10-year history of innovation and looking ahead, we will continue our innovation but also disrupt the market in ways like this that bring a personal and emotional connection to our products,” said Hsu, also, he mentions that the collaboration was excellent and a project that worked quite well, since what Microsoft is looking for is to innovate, and the ideal is to look to the future, giving users a personal and emotional connection with the products they can find.
If you want to check about other Surface devices you can check here the Surface Laptop 5 and the Surface Pro 9, the new Surface Pro 9 Liberty Special Edition is available only at Liberty and Microsoft Stores in select markets and with limited quantities.