He used materials from the aerospace industry in a watch and invented sunglasses with interchangeable lenses: 50 years ago, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche founded his own design studio and became an influential designer of his time. His style: timeless, revolutionary, and iconic.
“Good design is honest design.”Ferdinand Alexander Porsche
2007 | Fearless 28 The resemblance of the Fearless 28 speedboat to Porsche sports cars is visible at first glance. The Carrera GT, which was incredibly powerful for a series model at that time, served as inspiration for the design.
1978 | The “Exclusive Sunglasses” When the “exclusive sunglasses” are launched in 1978, they almost instantly define a whole new concept, as they’re the first pair of sunglasses to feature a change mechanism that enables adjustment to different light conditions. A timeless design with sales figures in the tens of millions.
2007 | P’7121 Floor Lamp The P’7121 features LED technology and is a component of the home lighting collection. The highly flexible light can be adjusted to just about any angle, making it a suitable ceiling light, wall light, and reading light, depending on the situation.
2003 | P’3130 Ballpoint Pen Available as a mechanical pencil and ballpoint pen, the P’3130 Mikado models feature 17 polished stainless-steel rods around the barrel. When the twisting mechanism is engaged, the rods straighten out before returning to their original position, as the refill extends and retracts.
1989 | TV 55 Porsche Design develops a TV for Grundig in 1989 to revamp the brand’s stuffy image. The result is a groundbreaking design with integrated speakers and remote control. Antireflective glass is positioned a short distance from the tube, giving the appliance a two-dimensional effect.
1979 | Sport Shield Yoko Ono makes the P’8479 sunglasses with their screw-in lens world-famous and, for years to come, never makes a public appearance without them – as on the cover of Rolling Stone in 1981.
1983 | The Pipe Pipe smoker F. A. Porsche frees the pipe of its stuffy aesthetic. The bowl with parallel cooling fins is made from aluminum, the body from briar root, allowing the full flavor of the tobacco to develop.
1976 | CP4 Motorcycle Helmet
The CP4's visor is integrated into the shell to protect it from damage when open. As the visor lifts, a cleaning mechanism engages and removes any dirt. The colors of the helmet and visor can be freely selected for a truly unique design, which was innovative at that time.
In 1979, a Yoko Ono press conference went down in the annals of design history when she sported the P’8479, a small, but important, accessory. For years to come, the artist and former life partner of John Lennon rarely made a public appearance without these sunglasses. In fact, they even became her trademark.
The P’8479 is just one of the numerous style icons developed by Porsche Design over the past 50 years since Ferdinand Alexander Porsche (F. A.) and his brother Hans-Peter founded the company in 1972. The talented designer was viewed as a down-to-earth visionary who forgoes all the bells and whistles, focuses first and foremost on function in his designs, looks for innovations in technology and materials, and subscribes to purism with incorruptible quality standards. To this day, he continues to influence Porsche Design’s work – but not because he defined a specific form of design, but rather an attitude. In this way, the agency is always on the lookout for the next classic, for timeless designs, in order to develop new products such as the Exclusive sunglasses with their interchangeable lens mechanism. The design has remained unchanged for more than 40 years, with around eleven million pairs of these sunglasses sold worldwide.
The success story began when the designer, who died in 2012, was still a child, as his philosophy was based on profoundly practical facts. He describes his first attempts in an interview: “There were no toys to buy in 1949 and the years that followed. So we invented, designed, and built our toys ourselves.” From the beginning, the top priority was always function. His brother Hans-Peter, too, remembers F. A. being something of a pragmatic intellectual. “Once our mother gave us a basket full of eggs to paint,” he says. “Using the metal construction kit, F. A. then built a machine with a rotating holder in which to clamp the eggs.”
F. A. was also shaped at a young age by the countless hours he spent in the former Porsche development and design office in Zuffenhausen. The place Porsche once recalled as his playground. “I absorbed everything I saw and heard like a sponge and was happy and proud to be a part of it.” The first youthful attempts were soon followed by professional design. The designer joined the company in 1958, assumed responsibility for the newly established Design department in 1962, and a short time later created the 911, an unmistakable line of one of the world’s most successful sports cars.
With the foundation of Porsche Design, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche ultimately expanded his creative influence from the automobile to product and industry design. But the sports car remained a point of reference. When leather is taken from the vehicle interior for use as a watch strap, the contours of a rim serve as inspiration for the rotor of an automatic watch, or cases can be configured in the original colors of the vehicle paint, the origin is self-evident.
F. A.’s design philosophy was characterized by pragmatic precision. In his eyes, a coherently designed product does not require any “bells and whistles.” His agency’s first product, the Chronograph I, is a testament to this conviction and boasts a design that ultimately stands the test of time. The world’s first watch designed all in black started a trend that would influence generations of watches.
Contax RTS 1 The fledgling start-up company Porsche Design celebrated a premiere in 1974 by designing its first camera. In an age of rapid development in photographic technology, the designers were faced with the tricky task of combining the numerous functions with a tidy aesthetic. The result? The Contax RTS 1, a 35 mm single-lens reflex camera with puristic functionality.
50Y Targa Leather Jacket Porsche Design created a leather jacket together with the manufacturer Meindl to mark its 50th anniversary. The cut of this limited-edition garment is inspired by the legendary 911 Targa. Nappa calfskin, an elasticated leather hem, and 50Y Porsche Design embossing on the collar stand underscore its exclusivity.
Premium Line In 1995, Porsche Design was commissioned by BSH Hausgeräte with designing a series of small kitchen appliances including a toaster, a coffee maker, and a kettle. In an initial survey, the designs met with resistance, among other things because the housing parts were made from extruded aluminum profiles – an expensive innovation. The series nevertheless went into production and the kettle, which was supposed to be produced in a run of 100,000, was sold 1.2 million times.
Bounce:S The Bounce:S sneaker was created in cooperation with Adidas in 2008. It reaped multiple awards that same year and was named one of the top 50 innovations of the year by Time magazine. Its innovative feature is a damping system designed together with the Porsche Engineering Group engineers and based on vehicle suspension.
Porsche Design: It’s about time Porsche Design treated itself on the occasion of its 50th anniversary with the book Porsche Design: It’s about time. The bilingual (German/English) work covers the design company’s 50-year history, features journalistic reports, and presents the man behind the brand: F. A. Porsche. The journey back in time through the history of design is available from the shop at porsche-design.com.
Roadster Hardcase The Roadster Hardcase designed in 2015 is unmistakably the work of Porsche Design. It aspires to being light, robust, and as stable as possible coupled with a low weight. This is achieved thanks to the sporty, elegant, ribbed structure, which reinforces the shell and makes it resilient. The wheels are double ball-bearing-mounted and specially coated and give the trolley case exceptional running smoothness.
Titanium Chronograph With the Chronograph I having been a global success, Porsche Design upped the ante in 1980 with the Titanium Chronograph. What makes it especially exclusive is the material, titanium, and the word is clearly engraved on the watch. Another extraordinary feature is the operating buttons incorporated into the watch frame. The watch was revolutionary, with titanium now being a staple material used for timepieces.
Porsche Design Tower Miami Porsche Design realized its first ever real estate project in 2017. The Porsche Design Tower in Miami was built together with Dezer Development and brings together the brand’s typical attributes – functional design, technical innovation, and future-oriented technologies. The highlight – the Dezervator, an elevator which takes the residents up to their penthouse together with their Porsche. This project was merely the beginning – the next Porsche Design Tower is currently under development in Stuttgart with a total height of 90 meters.
And thus began a new era for the founder of the design agency. He made the decision to start the company once all the family members had withdrawn from the sports car manufacturer’s operations. F. A. began by designing classic accessories – watches, glasses, and fountain pen holders. The product portfolio has since expanded significantly and ranges from toothbrushes, perfumes, colognes, and toasters to electric kettles, computers, fashion, and even the design of entire buildings like the Porsche Design Tower in Miami. In addition to focusing on function, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche was always looking for references to special materials, which is how Porsche Design launched the first titanium chronometer in 1980. Until that point, the precious metal had only been used in aerospace. Ferdinand Alexander Porsche viewed this as a translation of his own functional standards in material form, which is also visible with the Tec Flex ballpoint pen that goes by the understated name of P’3310. With its woven stainless steel, this pen has an exclusive look and has since become another classic.
Each of these classics makes F. A. Porsche’s legacy all the stronger, as his attitude influences style and his guidelines are part of the brand identity. According to F. A., creations should be, for example, “honest and uncompromising,” “innovative and conceptual,” “luxurious and puristic,” and “timeless and high quality.” Principles that still apply to this day and on the basis of which Porsche Design develops each and every product. And these guidelines ultimately also reflect the iconic simplicity of F. A. Porsche, who once described the central ideas of his design philosophy as follows: “If you consider the function of a thing, sometimes the form comes about on its own.”
10.7 – 10.1 l/100 km
243 – 228 g/km
8.8 – 8.7 l/100 km
200 – 198 g/km