A great product design article was published by Fortune Magazine recently – The 100 Greatest Designs of Modern Times. It’s a wonderful journey through some of the design products and services that have shaped and influenced our lives, and it’s a fascinating read.
It’s full of products I admire, and many that I already own and use every day. There are others that I would love to have as part of my life, and so I thought I’d start by buying myself a present! Here’s my gift to myself, No. 63 the Braun Calculator by Dieter Rams.
Originally in black, this is the reissue in white, and it’s the most beautiful calculator I’ve ever seen or used. As with so many great, modern products, it’s a seemingly simple design, but it probably took so much work done to achieve this beautiful finished result. And it’s as much of a pleasure to use as it is to look at.
Going through the list I bet everybody finds something they don’t totally agree on though, and most people probably have a personal design favourite too that they can’t believe wasn’t included.
There were quite a few chairs on the list – after all there’s nothing that interior designers love more than a chair – but I couldn’t believe that they’d omitted my favourite.
So here we are – this is the ‘Cab’ chair from 1977 by Mario Bellini. It’s a beautiful, simple chair that has been in production by Cassina ever since.
The form of the chair is remarkably simple, but the materials and execution combine to create something very special. The steel frame is completely clad in a skin of saddle leather, zipped over the frame as as you can see in this image.
This material choice achieves two things. Firstly, the saddle leather gives the simple chair a rich and luxurious feel and appearance, while remaining understated and elegant. Secondly, the strength of the leather is such that it provides the seat and back of the chair when slung across the frame, yet it also has just enough give to make this an extraordinarily comfortable chair too.
A truly perfect marriage of form and function, design and materials.
Finally, as followers might expect I was delighted to see Lego included in the list. Here, killing two birds with one stone…
…are No. 9 Lego Building Blocks, and No. 92 the Porsche 911. Oh, and a yuppie car owner. If there are two designs that have stood the test of time better than any others it could be these two. Gradually and developed and refined over decades, yet retaining the spirit and feel of the originals, these are two that I can see continuing for decades longer.
You can read the full list here: https://fortune.com/longform/100-best-designs/
Happy reading, and maybe happy shopping too!