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Haven't I Seen You Somewhere Before?

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Speaking of long-term art projects, this proto-iPod—a Braun TPI for 7-inch records, along with its attached T3 pocket receiver, each "cased in functional grey plastic body-shells"—was designed by Dieter Rams...in 1959. Retro futurism, you're back!

Rams (b. 1932) seems to have prefigured the anemone-eared iPodders in his anxieties, too. In A Century of Design: Design Pioneers of the 20th Century, Penny Sparke writes that colleagues have described Rams as "a man with an acute sensitivity to order and chaos—one in particular likening him to 'someone who has a very keen sense of hearing but who is forced to live in a world of shrill dissonance.' " Sparke continues, "For him the role of machines in the domestic environment were to be that of 'silent butlers': invisible and subservient, and there simply to make living easier and more comfortable. They were to be as self-effacing as possible and leave room for the role of beauty to be played by, say, a vase of flowers (in Rams's case, the white tulips that he frequently chose to accompany his otherwise austere environments)."

Of course, the white-tulip effect of Mac objects has come to seem lovely unto itself despite the purist self-effacement—a monochrome respite from all that dissonance, while still being (of course) a canny advertisement for the brand. Silent butlers—I'll say!


Wow, I’ve never seen that before. Very nice.

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2008 Webby Awards Official Honoree