The 80s 90s and early 2000s took us through the early stages of tech design trends, where portable music devices, remote controls andthe introduction of mobile phones flooded the market and industrial design as an industry had to deal with the new influx of buttons, knobs and display screens. Why over the past decade have we seen companies like apple shift to more minimal product design?
Established in 1919 as a school for combined crafts and the fine arts, the Bauhaus became a symbolic movement affecting all areas of design including industrial design and architecture, setting the early stages of minimal design theory. Iconic quotes like “Art into Industry” and “form follows function” speak for themselves and help define the Bauhaus mission. Before and after WW2, many leaders of the Bauhaus movement were dispersed worldwide and continued their mission in their adopted countries.
Tel Aviv, was one of the major recipients of these professionals. As a result Tel Aviv’s streets are littered with apartment buildings that were the Bauhaus’ answer to condensed modern living. The signature straight line, unornamented, plain white and geometric nature of Bauhaus architecture is in many ways the very definition of minimal design.
In its early stages minimal design and architecture was a cultural shock because of its contrast to the existing ornamental and classical styles of the early 20th century. How has this past revolution echoed into today’s product design trends? With the increased functionality of every day products the “less is more” approach has become more and more important. Products with complex interfaces need to arrange in such a way as to invite users not scare them away. Colour schemes and materials are chosen carefully to work in harmony with the form and function of the product, and all this while maintaining a brand identity.
Since its return to becoming an influential technology company in 1997, Apple has changed the way we think about product identity and industrial design. In 2007 the release of the first iphone literally changed the world. During the same year Blackberry released the 18820. The comparison is unfair, one button vs 40 and less functions. It is painfully obvious why blackberry who dominated the market a decade ago, now only contributes to 1%. Thanks to its industrial design team, Apple product’s subtle colour schemes, minimal form and straight forward interface creates a very strong, minimal brand identity. This is has been so effective that now owning an apple product is more of a lifestyle choice.