German consumer goods manufacturer Braun made some stunningly attractive designs in the 1950s and the 1960s, many of which can be found embodied in Apple’s own products today.
Some believe Apple’s Jonathan Ive, head of Industrial Design, ripped off the work of Braun’s head designer, Dieter Rams. The images below, compiled by Cult of Mac, seem to confirm these claims. However, the story is a bit more complicated.
The original iPod, which Apple released in 2001, is particularly reminiscent of the Braun T3 pocket radio, which the German company released in 1958. There’s no argument that the two are very similar in appearance.
Other products that have a clear Braun touch include the PowerMac G5, the iMac, as well as the iPhone's calculator app.
However, it is worth pointing out that Jony Ive has, on multiple occasions, acknowledged the influence of Dieter Rams.
Ive even wrote the foreword for Dieter Rams' book “As Little Design As Possible,” stating, “What Dieter Rams and his team at Braun did was to produce hundreds of wonderfully conceived and designed objects: products that were beautifully made in high volumes and that were broadly accessible.”
Dieter Rams himself regarded his influence on Apple’s design strivings as a “compliment,” not a rip-off.
Check out the video below featuring Jony Ive talking about functional design. The 8-minute clip is cut from the documentary Objectified. In it, Rams points out that Apple is the only company creating simple yet highly-functional products.
It is interesting to see how designers who have the same principles like learning from each other, as well as how they lend their works simply to make the world a better place.
Apple’s strivings for simplicity are certainly inspired by Braun’s Dieter Rams. But why pick on something when the designer himself is fine with it?