The T3 Player App, an iPhone simulacra of Dieter Rams’s famous portable radio.

Open up T3, and you’ll see a vertically oriented screen that looks quite a lot like the face of Rams’s original.

You can select a song from your library, then use the click wheel controls to control the song.

There’s also a Rams-inspired organizational system.

The novelty here is on replicating the experience of hearing your songs coming out of what looks and supposedly feels like a T3.

Co.Design

Replace Your iPhone Interface With A Dieter Rams Classic

Would Rams approve of an iPhone app designed after his iconic T3 Pocket Radio?

Dieter Rams’s 1973 T3 Pocket Radio is one of the most sought-after objects in postwar industrial design. The unassuming plastic radios--which many argue inspired the first iPod--regularly go for thousands of dollars online, when they’re being sold at all. “Original T3's are extremely hard to come across,” says Bryn Bodayle, the developer behind an iOS app that replicates Rams’s gadget. “I believe we’ve put this piece of history back into people’s pockets.”

The T3 Player App, which goes for 99 cents on iTunes, is the brainchild of Bodayle’s partner, Peruvian designer Eder Rengifo. After seeing Rengifo’s idea for the app (which he calls “a conceptual tribute” to Rams) on Behance, Bodayle contacted him about developing it. The two collaborated from different continents, launching the app within just a few months.

Open up T3, and you’ll see a vertically oriented screen that looks quite a lot like the face of Rams’s original. You can select a song from your library, then use the click-wheel to control playback. It’s a cut-and-dried third-party music app. The novelty here is in replicating the experience of hearing your songs coming out of what looks and supposedly feels like a T3. “There is a certain magic in the turning of a Dieter Rams dial,” Bodayle says. “The dials have the perfect amount of resistance and deceleration. I spent a good deal of energy making sure the wheel felt and acted right.”

There’s something hilariously meta about using the T3 app. It’s skeuomorphism on top of skeuomorphism: an interface that represents a 1973 radio using pixels, viewed on a device that was born out of the iPod, itself a direct facsimile of the original T3. Does the app break some of Rams’s principles of good design? Maybe. After all, Rams says that products are like tools: “They are neither decorative objects nor works of art.” Rengifo is aware of the irony, and notes that while this was a labor of love, it’s also a functional product. “Of course, we tried to make this useful,“ he adds, “because it’s not just a good design, it’s a useful tool for our iPhones.”

Check it out for yourself on iTunes.

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10 Comments

  • Pete Iorns

    Fuck. All this time I've been trying to fit the guts of my iPhone into my T3. Almost there. Maybe I should install this App on it once it's done just for skeuomorphic shits n giggles.

    For my iPad I was thinking of loading a picture of a Ferrari on it and driving it to the shops.

  • Jon

    Just finished reading a new version of Dante's Inferno by Larry Niven. The designer of this app would end up in a special place of hell. Hell is built on good intentions.

  • MajorDiarrhea

    We'll, I guess it's art for its own sake. You get to look at an image of your favorite radio.

    What would Rams have designed for the iPod is a more interesting thought.

  • PAUL S A N D I P

    who is fooling who? when was the last time you touched the grass and felt the wood?

  • B34NS

    This goes against everything Mr. Rams stood for.

    Can I actually hear out of the speaker? No it's fucking glass because it's a display.

     No innovative new way of using the device through toggles and switches? No this is 2013 and designers seem incapable of designing for gesture's on iOS.

    Purely decorative for the sake of getting FastCo attention? Achieved.
    Should this be another weather app? Probably.

  • Michael Lee

    I think the subhead for this article was a leading question, inspiring a bit of vitriol. Look at the MOMA link of Ram's work - I have a hard time believing it not supposed to be considered artful or decorative.

    Aside from what we all think Ram would or would not have said, I think the app is beautifully executed. Partly minimalist, partly emulating a previously successful design, but mostly just a lovely new take on the digital music player.

  • mn

    Dieter Rams would be sick through his hands if he saw this on a screen. Totally unnecessary over-styling, even if it is styled to look like Rams' work.

  • MM

     " Less is More " is Ram's philosophy.
    I see more than half of screen , some plain dots which are not needed(functional).
    If its not needed, they shouldn't be there.