Apple products may be design classics in their own right, but did you know that many are based on 1960s electronics? Sir Jony Ive is the genius behind the entire product range, but he owes a little credit to Dieter Rams, the grandfather of product design.
Check out these classic Braun designs and you’ll be amazed just how close they are to the modern Apple products they inspired. The similarities may also help you to formulate fresh ideas if you work in a design job yourself.
The Braun T1000 Radio
This industrial looking grey box was a futuristic radio developed by Braun in the 60s. It doesn’t take long to figure out what it inspired; the Apple PowerMac G5 has the same perforated surface and form factor, and a similarly monolithic appearance. The fan on the end also mimics the dial on the radio’s smooth silver surface.
The Braun T3 Pocket Radio
Some analysts have speculated Steve Jobs came up with the iPod’s circular click wheel based on his enthusiasm for zen Buddhism. In fact, the click wheel’s origins are plain to see in the Braun L60. Perforated surfaces take centre stage again on the Dieter Rams design; on the original iPod, the same area at the top became the screen.
The Braun LE1 Speaker
From the front, this speaker looks like any old flat panel, covered with standard black fabric. But take a side-on glance. Immediately you see the inspiration for the iMac’s sleek stand. This design can still be seen in the current line of iMacs; Apple recently changed the design slightly to streamline the stand even further.
The Braun ET44 Calculator
OK, so this Dieter Rams product didn’t inspire a piece of hardware, but it did inspire the look of an app. The iOS 6 calculator app is the original calculator’s twin brother, right down to the colour of the keys. Of course, this particular homage has been rendered obsolete by the release of iOS 7 with its revised calculator app and fresh colour scheme.
The Braun Infrared Emitter
Nobody seems to know what the Braun Infrared Emitter would have been used for fifty years ago, but one thing’s clear; its design was recycled into the Apple iSight camera. This product may have been made obsolete by Apple’s built-in iSight cameras, but it’s something of a design classic in its own right.
So Did Ive Rip Off Rams?
The similarities between Apple and Braun products has been pointed out by hundreds of design blogs, and some have gone as far as to call Sir Jony Ive a rip-off artist. But is he really? Ive’s designs certainly echo the Dieter Rams originals, but they could also be said to be revisions rather than direct copies. In many design jobs, designers take inspiration from the past.
In addition, the Apple products have a very different function to the Braun originals.
Time will tell which ones become design classics and which ones fade into obscurity.