EuroVox | 28.01.2008 | 05:30
Porsche Design Lures Men Into the Kitchen
Porsche Design is the sister company of the well known Porsche car brand. They design luxury items such as watches and accessories.
Together with Siemens, they have already designed kitchen appliances such as toasters and coffee machines. And now they are making bigger toys for bigger boys, like kitchens, starting at 50,000 Euros.
Reporter: Julia Carneiro
Porsche Design Group (Porsche Lizenz- und Handelsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG), based in Bietigheim-Bissingen, Germany was founded in 2003 by as a majority-owned subsidiary of Porsche AG. The company includes the Porsche Design Studio in Zell am See, Austria, and on the brands Porsche Design and Porsche Design Driver’s Selection. Dr. is the current President and CEO of the Porsche Design Group.
Some of the more successful projects in the United States have included the Porsche Design P'3600 Smoking Accessories brand distributed by Integral Logistics LLC. Porsche Design Lighters, Humidors, Pipes and Ashtrays have been recognized worldwide as having some of the most advanced integrated technology available today. Many of these products are sold through "Shop-In-Shop" concept locations inside over 500 cigar shops and Duty Free Shops.
The first product Porsche Design came up with was a chronograph wristwatch made by Swiss watchmaker company Orfina. Its design started during F.A. was still working at the Porsche Style bureau. It was launched in 1973 and was different to other chronograph wristwatches as its case and bracelet were made out of matt black chromed steel. It was intended as accessoire for Porsche drivers and sold by the Porsche dealers. It operated the then new movement Valjoux 7750 which is today still the most widespread mechanical movement for chronograph wristwatches. As many customers would have liked a normally coloured watch a version with glassblasted stainless steel was issued. Later the movement was changed to the Lemania 5100 which was a simple and rugged movement mainly used for military watches. The Porsche Design Chrono I was made in different versions (color of case and straps, print on dial) for several country's air forces as well as the NATO alliance.
In 1978 F.A. teamed up with Swiss watchmaker International Watch Company (IWC) to develop a wristwatch combining a non-magnetic automatic movement and a compass, the so-called Kompassuhr. The movement was housed in a hinge-attached upper case that could be flapped to give sight on the compass in the lower part of the case. Its cases and bracelet was made out of PVD coated aluminum (matt black or matt olive). Late versions had the cases and bracelet made out of titanium. IWC pioneered use of titanium in watch cases/bracelets together with F.A. in the development of the Titan Chronograph launched in 1980. The Titan Chronograph was the first watch to use titanium in wristwatches. IWC had to develop working processes paying attention to titanium's specific attributes. The unique design aspect of the Titan Chronograph were the pushers to operate the stopwatch functions being integrated in the case's contour.
F.A.'s appeal to using unusual materials showed in the very rare Chrono II made by IWC. Its case was made of glassblasted aluminum with bracelet made out of fibre-reinforced resin. This watch also employed integrated pushers.
Watches are still a main business of Porsche Design. In 1996 the Swiss watchmaker Eterna, which invented the ball bearing for the winding rotor used in automatic movements, was bought by F.A. holding company.
The Porsche Design product suffering most often from plagiarism is probably the sunglasses with drop-shaped lenses, which was issued during the 80s in a lot of weird colour combinations e.g. purple lenses with golden or white frame. F.A. designed many more spectacles. Most often they had some unique attributes — e.g. a saddle shaped cushion adapting to the nose shape automatically and opening symmetrically through an internal cam mechanism. The drop-shaped spectacle had a quick release mechanism to provide quick lens changes. One sunglass even had magnetically held lenses. Another one got its shape from the intended production method: its shape was accommodated to a sandcasting process of titanium. The production issue was actually not made of titanium, but the shape remained.
Transportation design remained an issue on F.A. Porsche. He made several studies for metropolitan trains, a motorcycle, several bicycles and a slightly dolphin-shaped racing boat called Kineo.
As the company grew the product categories diversified. There are three possibilities how designs made by Porsche Design can appear: the Porsche Design brand products made exclusively for Porsche Design, products bearing the manufacturer's name and the writing 'Design by F.A. Porsche' and products with no hint of Porsche Design at all. Porsche Design came up with several bathroom designs, a washing machine, furniture, knives, TVs, desk lamps e.g. one with 3 telescopic radio antennas attaching the light bulb holder to the base and one employing design aspects of a guillotine in its pull-out mechanism, tobacco pipes with air-cooled-engine-inspired cooling fins, pens made out of wire-cloth used in oil hoses for racing engines, computer monitors, computer external hard drives, coffee makers, and even a grand piano for an Austrian manufacturer Bösendorfer.
The formerly completely private owned Porsche Design company belongs in the meantime to a cooperation company between F.A. Porsche and the Dr.-Ing. hc F. Porsche AG of which F.A. holds roughly 13%. F.A. Porsche retired in 2005 due to his state of health. He was given the title honorary chairman of the supervisory board, a title that was originally invented for his father when he retired.