2. News
  3. Stories
  4. 2018
  5. 01
  6. Driven by German Design: 5 objects with a surprising history

We use cookies (our own and those of third parties) to make our websites easier for you to use and to display advertisements in accordance with your browser settings. By continuing to use our websites, you consent to the use of cookies. Please see our Cookie Policy for more information on cookies and information on how you can change your browser's cookie settings: Cookie Policy Accept

Driven by German Design: 5 objects with a surprising history

The exhibition “Driven by German Design” in Doha – supported by Volkswagen – has some surprises up its sleeve: many of the exhibits have an interesting history or are pretty closely related. We have compiled the best examples for you here.

1. The Braun calculator and the iPhone 1

Swipe rather than type: ten years have now passed since the iPhone 1 came onto the market, revolutionizing the way in which we communicate and consume. Siemens, Blackberry, Nokia – the list of competitors which the miracle device and its successors killed off is long and littered with big names. What is less well known is that Apple’s chief design officer at the time, Jonathan Ive, was an admirer of his German colleague Dieter Rams. Razors, record players, portable radios – Rams and his team influenced the clear, linear design of many Braun group products until well into the 1980s. Fittingly, the iPhone included a homage from Ive to Rams: the digital user interface of the calculator was modeled on the Braun calculator ET66.

2. The Porsche with the writing tires

A meteoric vehicle with which the driver can write their name in the snow and mud tracks of this world – what could be a better gift for Ferry Porsche on his 80th birthday? The roadworthy “Panamericana” concept sports car built by Ulrich Bez and designed by the then head designer Harm Lagaay was gifted to the son of the company founder in 1989. Sporting an ultra-light plastic sandwich body, the top layer made of synthetic resin reinforced with fiberglass and carbon fiber and an organically integrated roll bar, the roadster was a tour de force from both a technical and a design perspective. Recessed fenders gave a clear view of the tire tread as an optical tidbit. The Porsche emblem was cut into the rubber – a branding for any surface as befits a vehicle of its caliber.

3. Apple’s teutonically influenced original computer

“Snow White”: while it may sound like a mild detergent or a Disney cartoon, this was actually the name given to the design concept for Apple’s “llc” computer that came out in 1984. Central design elements were the narrow housing for the time, the screen propped up on a rationally aesthetic support and the arrangement of the ventilation holes, which gave the computer an even leaner look. The computer was developed by Steve Jobs and Hartmut Esslinger from Germany, who with his company frogdesign – which used the slogan “form follows emotion” – went on to design even more products for the IT company. The “llc” established pioneering design as a characteristic element of Apple products for the first time.

4. Opening a classic: Richard Sapper unplugged

German designer Richard Sapper gained fame in particular with his iconic “Tizio” table lamp, whose perfectly balanced metal frame also served as a conductor. Yet the design trends in Sapper’s adopted city of Milan were also apparent in other designs, for example in that for the cube radio TS 502, which he designed for radio manufacturer Brionvega in 1965. The rectangular plastic box, which when opened reveals loudspeakers and buttons, graces the kitchens and living rooms of countless design enthusiasts in Germany and was probably taken on the odd trip to the cornfields as well.

5. The amplifier from the East

For a long time, audio equipment for private households tended to be designed in the form of contemporaneous living-room furniture – just think of the NS-era Volksempfänger. This changed at the beginning of the 1960s – in both German states in fact. In the GDR, Heliradio in particular brought with it a whole new dimension of sound. The Hi-Fi receiver “Heli rk 5” took on the competition from the West. Created by “freelance designers” Karl Clauss Dietel und Lutz Rudolph, the receiver with an electronic station search and silicon transistors was an absolute novelty in the GDR market and formed the basis for an entire series of audio devices. That clocks in the Socialist state then ticked slightly slower than in the Federal Republic was demonstrated by the fact that all successor models produced up until “Die Wende” underwent very little further technical development.