During an interview yesterday regarding the design legacy of Steve Jobs I was probed to cast back and find something comparable. I thought about Olivetti and their penchant, early in the 20th century, for graduates of the Bauhaus who they put to work on shaping their image, corporate and product, with new dynamic graphics and plasticity to product design. This emphasis and understanding and appreciation from the corporate head down of design were later emulated by Braun and Sony (among others) with even more crafted identities.
Then I woke up last night and realised that I should have cast back just a little bit further for a fine example of what might in the day have mirrored Jobs’ recent efforts. What product from the past was placed in peoples hands, a product that had been the domain of the professional made domestic, a product that could be put to a creative use, a product neat and simple in design, portable, easy to operate, empowering, global . . . why the Kodak Brownie of all things and the man behind it George Eastman. Eastman put the power of photography into everyone’s hands . . . with a device just as simple, intuitive and elegant as the ipod . . . point and shoot.
So putting Jobs into some larger perspective he is not the greatest just the latest in a long line of visionary industrialists.