The Original Mac

The first Mac, which was a blockbuster thanks to its pathbreaking graphical UI and emphasis on friendly design.

20th Anniversary Mac

From 1997, a symbol of all that went wrong with Apple in Steve Jobs’s absence: The hideous 20th Anniversary Mac, which was a bloated, insanely expensive gadget that no one bought.

The iMac (1998)

The first product of the Steve Jobs/Jonathan Ive collaboration--and the computer that brought Apple back from the grave. At the time, it was the fastest selling computer in Apple history--despite predictions from insiders that it would fail miserably.

The iPod

The iMac saved Apple, but it was the iPod that turned the company into a cash machine and set it on the path of so many groundbreaking innovations such as the iPad and iPhone. To pull it off, Ive looked to one of his idols, Dieter Rams…

Braun T3 Pocket Radio (1958)

One of Rams’s masterpieces, which obviously bears an uncanny resemblance to the first iPod.

Braun SK 4 Phonograph (1956)

One of Rams’s masterpieces, which obviously bears an uncanny resemblance to the first iPod.

Braun T1000 Radio (1963)

Ive’s obesssion with Braun and Dieter Rams runs throughout Apple’s work. Compare this radio with…

Power Mac (2003)

…the metal case of the 2003 Power Mac.

Braun PS 1000 Phonograph (1956)

Note the used of brushed aluminum, and the color and texture contrast with the deep black of the phonograph’s body…

Sony Walkman TPS L2 (1979)

…and also note the use of brushed metal in the buttons here…

iPhone 4 (2010)

Ive and crew seem to have taken hints from both Braun and Sony in the current iPhone design language, which emphasizes an industrial feel rather than the friendly, plasticky look of previous years.

Caltrain Fatalities by Michael Tompert (2010)

Should we be a bit ambivalent about our own gadget lust? Tompert probably thinks so. He created the mess you see here by placing iPod nanos on the tracks of the CalTrain.


An Exhibit Exploring Jony Ive's Design Legacy At Apple

In Germany, a survey that collects all of Jony Ive's iconic work, and places it alongside that of his great influences, such as Dieter Rams.

When Apple held its public "Celebrating Steve" memorial, it’s no coincidence that the eulogy was delivered by Jonathan Ive. Promoted by Jobs to Senior Vice President of Industrial Design in 1997, Ive oversaw the product design of Apple’s incredibly successful return to power. The Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg is running a retrospective exhibition that examines the history of Apple’s industrial design under Ive. The exhibit is curated from a cultural studies context and is a wide survey that ranges from formal influences to the economic effects of Apple’s iconic products.

The big attraction of the exhibition is the museum’s comprehensive collection. They boast that it contains every product produced by Apple under Ive. This includes iconic devices like the iPod, and the Bondi Blue iMac as well as more humble products like the Airport Express or the Apple battery charger. They are particularly proud of some of their more obscure finds, such as the eMate300, a laptop from 1997 designed to be used in schools or the iMac Blue Dalmatian, with one of the stranger chassis patterns I’ve seen on an Apple product.

The exhibit also features examples of products that influenced Ive, most notably Dieter Rams’ iconic Braun designs along with examples of products whose look and feel were plainly influenced by Apple, such as Nintendo’s clear-cased Game Boy.

Stylectrical aims to reveal more than just the formal look of industrial design. "To give a product its shape goes well beyond Luis Sullivan’s often-quoted phrase 'form follows function,'" says the press release. "Various demands such as material, form, aesthetics, function, handling and usage must be taken into account during the design process and combined."

In the accompanying book, a variety of authors consider the impact of these demands on Ive’s work at Apple, looking at the materials that shaped the products, the impact of Apple’s retail environments, or the influences that tie Apple to Braun and Apple to California. It even has a point by point grading of Ive’s adherence to Dieter Rams’ 10 principles for good design. The author, architect Friedrich von Borries, doesn’t come away impressed.

For example, he looks the iPad’s lack of a Flash player and sees a failure to meet rule #2 "Good design makes a product useful." He looks at Apple’s brief rejection of a political cartoons app and sees an adherence to rule #8 "Good design is thorough, down to the last detail" that is dangerously tyrannical. Given that no one has managed to ship a product with a mobile Flash player that works well and that Adobe discontinued development and given that Apple updated its policies to allow political cartoons, these arguments are pretty unconvincing.

They are all the more unconvincing, because Rams himself gave the company high marks in an interview here on Fast Co. Design.

"For me it’s a compliment that they use the basic thinking about what design can be and how it would use new technologies," he told us, "and that is what I tried also, especially with my main work at Braun."

The exhibition runs through Jan. 15 at The Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg.

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