A great designer and mentor

Updated: 2011-10-07 08:48

By Mark Bendeich and Astrid Wendlandt (China Daily)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

A great designer and mentor 

Cory Moll, an employee of the downtown Apple store in San Francisco, stands outside the store on Wednesday holding a message thanking Steve Jobs. Apple founder and visionary Steve Jobs died from cancer on Wednesday aged 56, a premature end for a man who revolutionized modern culture and changed forever the world's relationship to technology. Kimihiro Hoshino / Agence France-Presse

Jobs' innovative creations among most iconic products of digital age

SYDNEY / PARIS - Even before he died, Steve Jobs had secured his place in the pantheon of industrial design and as one of its most influential figures of the last century.

The Mac, the iPod and iPhone, born out of his vision of marrying high technology to an elegant and simple form, are already recognized by designers as among the most iconic products of the digital age.

Creations from the founder of Apple not only changed the way people communicate, watch films, listen to music and shop on the Internet but large Mac screens and graphics-friendly Mac software also make life easier for architects, publishers, artists and fashion designers.

"One of the truly great designers and mentors," said British architect Norman Foster, known for working on major projects such as the Millennium Bridge in London, the Millau Viaduct in southern France and Swiss Re's headquarters in London.

"Steve Jobs encouraged us to develop new ways of looking at design to reflect his unique ability to weave backwards and forwards between grand strategy and the minutiae of the tiniest of internal fittings," Foster added.

The iPod, Apple's big game-changer launched a decade ago, has a special place on the wall of fame of global consumer icons, alongside the Volkswagen Beetle, the Coca-Cola bottle, the Swiss Army pocket knife or the Olivetti portable typewriter.

Every country or culture can have its own consumer design icons - Italy's Vespa motorscooter or America's Cadillac - but only relatively few go truly global and endure. Rarer still are those that change the way people do things.

"Steve Jobs has shown that breakthrough products come from taking intuitive risks, not from listening to focus groups. He was a master of semiotic design," said British industrial designer James Dyson, best known for the dual-cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner.

From its inception in 2001, the iPod spread like electricity and reshaped the music industry in a way its predecessor, the Sony Walkman, failed to do in a lasting fashion.

Apple is a computer company yet it was the first to successfully commercialize digital music on the Internet well before industry giants EMI, Warner Music Group and Sony Music and helped save the industry from slow death by piracy.

Hundreds of millions of iPods have been sold, each featuring a simple retro dial that bears the hallmark of Jobs' design philosophy of clean minimalism.

All over the world, iPods are tucked into the back of torn jeans and in the pockets of suits, strapped to the arms of joggers or entertaining commuters on journeys home.

"Many credit Apple as probably the best advertisement for professional design and the role of design that we have ever seen," said Brandon Gien, an executive member of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design.

Then came the iPad, released in 2010, which changed the way people read newspapers and books, took notes, surfed the Internet, called each other on Skype and dealt with everyday practical problems thanks to hundreds of savvy applications.

At Paris Fashion Week, which ended on Wednesday, fashion buyers took photos of dresses with their iPads and once the show was over, they flicked through them as a catalogue they had just created and decided which ones they wanted to buy.

"We saw a lot of iPads on the front row," said Marigay McKee, Harrods Fashion, Beauty Director who was at Fashion Week.

"All the bloggers and a lot of the fashion editors diligently carried iPads," she added. Many luxury brands, including Louis Vuitton and Hermes (at a price of $1,400), make iPad holders as chic accessories.