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The Apple Beat: Apple Design according to Hartmut Esslinger

Photo by Harmut EsslingerBy Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

I have always been fascinated with Apple's industrial design. Seeing Hartmut Esslinger's various design studies and prototypes for Apple products during the 80's shows how the Apple industrial design language was so ahead of its time and how the company produced some truly intriguing ideas.

Esslinger made his name as a designer for Sony (WEGA, Trinitron), Louis Vuitton. His company Frog Design created the design language for the Macintosh and he followed Steve Jobs from Apple to NeXT when Jobs was fired by Apple's John Sculley-led board.

Reading the post from, it is clear how there was a definitive design language that unified Apple's early devices. Some of the concepts are also very intriguing and ahead of their time. There's a 1984's version of a smartphone there, a MacBook, an iPad-like tablet and a Baby Mac that's kind of a dead ringer for the early iMacs.

Many of the all-in-one desktop concepts still look fresh even if they're using CRT displays and not LCDs. What intrigues me most about this is how Esslinger was able to create new forms that were not just imaginative but appear to be functional.

image courtesy of hartmut esslinger

The designs are also unified in look and feel and unmistakably Apple at the very core. Clean, smooth, angular and somewhat quirky they are most certainly original. 

Anyone interested in Apple industrial design as well as early prototypes should also try and find a copy of AppleDesigng: The Work of the Apple Industrial Design Group by Paul Kunkel and Stylectrical: On Eletro Design that Makes History by Friedrich Von Borries.

The latter is particularly hard to find as it has been in circulation since the late 90's but is worth a read specially if you are as fascinated as I am by Apple industrial design and prototypes.

Images from Hartmut Esslinger


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