If you were to travel back in time 100 years, any city in the world would look substantially different. Most of the changes in the visual look of the modern world can be attributed to product design development. In 2013, CNN asked designers the world over about the most innovative and world-changing designs of the last 100 years. Their answers provide some important insight into what shapes the world’s products and how those products shape our identity.
- The Apple Macintosh – Widely hailed as the computer that ushered in the era of the personal computer, the original Apple Macintosh was simple but also powerful. It’s features were practical, but it also implemented a useful design interface that made people comfortable sitting in front of it. It marked a transition between an era when computers were seen as intimidating monstrosities to something that no home or business could be without.
- The Vespa Scooter – Developed by Piaggio & Co, the Vespa scooter combined automotive innovation with simplicity and universality. Around the world, it has had a huge impact on culture, society, and productivity.
- The Escalator – Although the elevator had been invented much earlier, the escalator added a whole new element to the way architecture was developed. They allow for continuous transportation of large quantities of people in a way that elevators cannot.
- The AK-47 – This gun from the Soviet-era was well-regarded for its economy and simplicity. It’s still the most widely-used weapon on battlefields today, and it affected weapons manufacturing for years to come.
The Floppy Disk – While they may seem archaic in this modern age of cloud storage, the floppy disk was revolutionary in its time. It allowed for simple, reliable storage and transportation of digital information in a time where that simply wasn’t possible in a widespread way. It’s elegant and durable design allowed for any consumer to use it properly.