7 Porsche Design products that stunned the world
What is Porsche Design? We celebrate the brand’s most iconic and surprising product innovations
911 Porsche Design 50th Anniversary Edition in leafy courtyard
Explore seven of Porsche Design’s standout products – spanning custom-built watches to real estate – from half a century of design magic
Man sits facing out of black Porsche 911 in museum
Chief Design Officer, Roland Heiler, opens a door to the fascinating world of Porsche Design
When Ferdinand Alexander – or F. A. Porsche, son of Porsche founder Ferry, set up Porsche Design in 1972, it was fuelled by a vision to take Porsche DNA beyond the automobile world. In the years that followed, the company has produced a stream of timeless products – and continues to do so to this very day. The release of the 911 Edition 50 Years Porsche Design vehicle, plus special edition Chronograph 1, commemorates this achievement. Here we take a tour through the past half century with special insights from the Chief Design Officer for Porsche Design, Roland Heiler, to find out how it has become synonymous with timeless design.
Chronograph 1 1972 Limited Edition on display at Porsche Museum
Time – the Chronograph 1 revolutionised the watch world with its radical aesthetics
Where it all began – the Chronograph 1F. A. Porsche joined up with his brother, Hans-Peter, when their company began designing its first products. The Porsche Design timepiece that started it all was the Chronograph 1 – a milestone in the art of watchmaking that became an instant trendsetter with its all-black case and matching dial. The never-seen-before monochrome colour scheme was for more than just aesthetic reasons – it was deliberately chosen to eliminate all reflections. Not just content with revolutionising the watch world, F. A. Porsche carried the design over to Porsche cars themselves, with the trim and window surroundings of the Porsche 911 evolving from chrome to matt black after 1972.
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To celebrate the birth of Porsche Design, two new versions of the legendary Chronograph 1 have been made for its 50th anniversary
It will come as no surprise that such an important artefact for the company is the centrepiece of the 50 Years of Porsche Design exhibition at the Porsche Museum, which is running until June 2022. The original concept has also inspired a new watch, the Chronograph 1 - 1972 Limited Edition, which is limited to 500 pieces. Porsche has also gifted Porsche Design a symbolic gift in the form of the 911 Edition 50 Years Porsche Design – limited to 750 vehicles worldwide. Furthermore, Porsche Classic has been working on a unique project to celebrate; the team of the factory restoration has restored a 911 S 2.4 Targa from 1972 – the year that Porsche Design was founded. In tribute to F. A. Porsche, the one-of-a-kind vehicle features the same colours as the legendary Chronograph I that he designed. It will go under the hammer at RM Sotheby’s by the end of 2022. “It’s by no means an exaggeration to say that the relationship between Porsche and Porsche Design has never been closer than it is right now,” says Roland. To match the anniversary vehicle, there’s also another exclusive timepiece in the shape of the Chronograph 1 – 911 Edition 50Y Porsche Design.“Both Porsche Design watches look like the 1972 version, but they use modern technology. Instead of steel, the case and strap are made of titanium, and readability in the dark has been improved,” says Roland. This timely duo is the perfect symbol of Porsche Design’s design philosophy – form equals function. Products are not only distinguished by high standards in craftmanship but also a desire to create maximum functionality has prevailed over the years. “F. A. Porsche cherished the idea of lifetime companions and was against throwing things away or replacing them regularly,” Roland adds. “He wanted products to become more valuable the longer you owned them – and even be passed on to the next generation. That’s the vision we still follow today.”Ski goggles 5600 Over time, this vision evolved from the world of watchmaking and into attention-grabbing eyewear. In 1976, Porsche Design launched a sci-fi-esque interpretation of ski goggles. Making a bold statement with their wide, continuous visor, they were an example of simple, effective design and clean lines. Once again, functionality was at the forefront. Light and comfortable, the flexible panoramic lens ensured optimum visibility, and when laid flat, they took up minimal space. They maintained their style both on the slopes and during après-ski lounging.
P’8478 sunglasses in front of row of coloured, oversized lenses
A new lens on wearable fashion
P’8478 aviator sunglassesThe Porsche design P’8478 aviator sunglasses took the industry by storm when they launched in 1978. They were the world’s first sunglasses with an interchangeable lens, allowing adjustments to be made according to different light conditions. Since then, this unique functionality and innovative design has remained almost unchanged – these timeless sunglasses have sold in their tens of millions.When it comes to his favourite pieces of Porsche design, landmark products like the sunglasses and Chronograph 1 rank highly on Roland’s all-time list. “I’m extremely fond of the Monobloc Actuator from 2017,” he adds. “It’s very significant as it’s the first chronograph that has a rocking switch to start and stop the watch. Plus, the technology for the bearing is taken from the valve drive of an RSR racecar.” In 2014, Porsche Design made the major step of beginning to produce its timepieces in its very own factory in the Swiss city of Solothurn, expanding into the field of custom-built timepieces.One of the primary benefits of the products is an attention to innovative detail, says Roland. “If you appreciate products that are thought out, built extremely well and will last a long time, they are for you,” he explains. “As my first boss said, ‘I cannot afford to buy cheap shoes.' It’s all about that principle of acquiring products of enduring quality, instead of multiple items with less longevity.”
Composite image comprising Porsche Design kettle, toaster and thermos
Everything but the kitchen sink: the premium line that became a surprise hit
Kitchen appliance seriesPorsche Design didn’t stop at wearables. Later, the studio also expanded into making kitchen appliances in the form of a kettle, toaster and thermos flask. They were made with brushed aluminum – at the time a first for household items. Initial market research fed back that prospective customers were perhaps not yet ready for what was quite radical design at the time. But when they hit the stores, sales were more than enthusiastic. The kettle, for example, was initially planned for 100,000 units but would go on to notch up sales in excess of 1.2 million units.
F. A. Porsche cherished the idea of lifetime companions and was against throwing things away or replacing them regularly. He wanted products to become more valuable the longer you owned them – even to be passed on to the next generation. It’s the vision we still follow today
Roland Heiler | CDO, Porsche Design
It was a collection that would become synonymous with the studio’s design language. “We’re known for using titanium, stainless steel, brushed surfaces and leather, working in subdued hues and avoiding a bright, plastic aesthetic,” says Roland. When it comes to the conceptual phase, the innovative team – made even more impressive by the fact they are just 30 in number – follows a creative process that allows for new ideas. “We conduct two innovation workshops per year, where we discuss new potential products, and then we undergo deep extensive research.” Not only have Porsche Design products become famed for their signature style, but the design team behind it has also been recognised with a highly sought-after accolade – the 2021 Red Dot Design Team of the Year award. It’s a prize based on a jury’s selection (and therefore cannot be applied for) and a mark of the great respect for the studio’s strong output among the greater design world. “It’s a beautiful reward for everyone that works so hard every day,” says Roland.
Book One laptop with screen flipped on its 360-degree hinge
A gripping volume designed to convert its users into avid bookworms
Book OnePorsche Design entered the world of computing in 2017, releasing its first laptop. Breaking from the norm, the Book One sports a detachable screen – suiting both work and daily life by transforming into a tablet for on-the-go use. Its VarioHinge – inspired by the manual gearbox of sportscars – allows complete 360° functionality. Featuring Porsche Design’s sleek aesthetic, it’s no surprise to learn after one short glance that the design studio was responsible for this innovative piece of tech.
The Fearless 28 speedboat transferred signature Porsche characteristics from the open road to open water
The Fearless 28 speedboat transferred signature Porsche characteristics from the open road to open water
Fearless 28The design team masterminds have also produced some of Porsche Design’s biggest and boldest work to date – like the 2007 Fearless 28. A quick glance at this speedboat gives you instant cues to the identity of the powerful sportscar that inspired it. The legendary Porsche Carrera GT was a big influence on its form. Take a closer look at the hull and you’ll notice a special feature. In a change to the nautical norm, the Fearless 28 is divided in two lengthways – done so to achieve the boat’s high shoulders and simple, smooth sides.
Black and gold Bounce: S sneakers on black background
A runaway success: the Bounce:S shoes
Bounce:S shoesIn 2008, Porsche Design set out with Adidas to create something completely new in the field of running shoes. The result – the Bounce:S – caused a stir on its release. Inspired by the construction of a vehicle’s suspension, the key element of the shoes lay within the real metal springs inside the sole, instead of the usual foam. As a result, it helped give an athlete more momentum. Complex in its concept yet simple in shape, this design provided comfort and stability in addition to aiding optimal running performance. The Bounce:S went on to become a bestseller, notching up numerous awards and accolades – including being voted as one of the 50 best innovations of the year by Time magazine. Onto the next 50 An illustrious past and a present that’s celebrated. But what about the future? For Porsche Design, it turns out that the sky really is the limit. “A new passion of Porsche Design is the creation of timeless spaces,” explains Roland. And just a stone’s throw from the Porsche Factory in Zuffenhausen, a very special build is taking place, “Currently under construction is the Porsche Design Tower Stuttgart, which will house offices and a Porsche Center in the lower part, and a hotel, restaurant and rooftop terrace in the upper.” Whether Porsche owners, fans of the brand or purist design lovers, a commonality unites buyers of Porsche Design, “Our customers definitely appreciate minimalistic design as well as items that are even rebellious in nature – things that go against the mainstream,” says Roland.
Render of completed Porsche Design Tower Stuttgart
The new Porsche Design Tower Stuttgart is set to open in 2023. Copyright: Moka Studios and Bülow AG
Creating innovative spaces that cater to their customers’ distinct needs lies at heart of the decision to form a hotel group in cooperation with Steigenberger. The long-term vision is for a Porsche Design hotel to be built in many of the world’s great cities – a place where the many fans of Porsche Design can immediately feel at home. Visionary and flourishing at 50? That’s Porsche Design in 2022. In the meantime, the next half-century has begun.