Monday, July 1, 2013

The 12 best designs from the past 100 years

1. Apple Macintosh

When Apple Mac said hello to the world in 1984 it turned the computing industry on its head, says Dick Powell, co-founder of design agency SeymourPowell. It seamlessly combined outstanding software and hardware into an experience. Other than the Jobs-less years it spent in the innovation wilderness, it's still doing it.

2. Piaggio's Vespa
"Vespa's unisex design is genius: both men in suits and women in skirts can travel elegantly," says Italian designer Gianfranco Zaccai, who nominated the famous scooter. "Used in Fellini's "La Dolce Vita" and loved by the Beatles, the Vespa has had a profound impact on culture, productivity, and society."

3. Escalator

Initially, the elevator was introduced as an "experience" for which people would pay to go up and down. "When it was applied to our architecture it made our world animated and alive for the first time," says Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde.

4. Virgin Galactic Space Plane

Welsh industrial designer Ross Lovegrove opted for the world's first tourist space craft. "It's the only truly committed concept of its type to be taken into reality and it heralds a new era of the way we will view and appreciate our beautiful planet," he says.

5. AK-47

A beacon of economical design from the Soviet-era, the AK-47 was selected by Marcus Fairs, editor of industry magazine Dezeen. Also referred to as the Kalashnikov (the name of its designer), the automatic rifle is still a widely used weapon on today's battlefields.

6. Floppy disk

It may be labeled "Mini-Disk" but no, this is not a shot of the much-loved but short-lived early 90s MiniDisc. This is a compact version of the first ever 8 inch floppy disk (circa 1976), which was nominated by none other than the man who lays claim to its invention, Japanese designer Yoshiro Nakamatsu.

7. iPod

The iPod, the product so iconic it defined a generation. Nick Rhodes, head of the Industrial Design MA at the University of London, nominated the mp3 player because "it so clearly demonstrates the benefits of collaborative efforts." "This is no longer the province of a single 'hero' designer," he says "but rather the unified work of many practitioners."

8. The Aeron chair

George McCain, chairman of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) opted for the Aeron Chair. The design classic by Herman Miller "has become ubiquitous in all 'hip' offices," says McCain. "It instigated a sea change in office seating away from heavy, uncomfortable, ergonomically challenged and environmentally unfriendly chairs."

9. Bang & Olufsen stereo

This 1979 Bang&Olufsen stereo (2400) was nominated by U.S. designer Karim Rashid: "I bought this stereo when I was 19. At the time it cost a fortune but I still use it today. It has never failed me. Its minimalism, plug-and-play interaction, universal interface, form and elegance all supersede the tech objects of today."

10. Airbus A380

"The super-jumbo," "the gentle giant," call it what you will, the Airbus A380 is the world's largest passenger jet and was selected by Deyan Sudjic, director of London's Design Museum. Revealed in 2005 to challenge the Boeing monopoly, this magnificent aircraft can haul over 850 people through the skies.

11. Ford Model T

"At first I thought of the Model T Ford," says Professor Miles Pennington, head of the design innovation at the Royal College of Art. "After all it brought freedom, flexibility and productivity to millions of people". However, in the end he too chose the Apple Mac "for making complex technology approachable and loveable".

12. Jet engine
We may applaud the Airbus but if it weren't for Frank Whittle, who invented the first jet engine, it wouldn't even exist. Nominated by Trevor Baylis, who invented the wind-up radio, the jet engine transformed air travel and opened it up to the masses.
Tell us in the comments section what you think are the most iconic designs from the last 100 years.