The 15 Most Iconic Product Designs
Every now and again, someone designs a product that changes everything. A lot of the time, these products become true icons – icons of a category, icons of an age, icons of emotions, and the very symbols of the corporations from which they stem.
It’s hard to know what it is exactly that makes designs iconic, but there are several characteristics that they all seem to share. They’re unique, ubiquitous and often deeply simplistic. Iconic designs are rarely iconic for the details and ornaments etched on their surfaces, but rather for the qualities intrinsic in their shapes and forms.
Iconic design is immediately recognisable and virtually unforgettable. Icons are almost always commercially successful because of how easy they are to market, and for the ability to simply reinforce a message that is familiar and has been told a million times over. In no particular order, here are 15 product designs, past and present that we think are truly iconic.
1. Coca-Cola Bottle.
This list would simply be wrong without this addition: the world’s favourite carbonated beverage in the world’s most famous bottle. Others have tried, but none have quite replicated the success of the sexy curves that make this bottle so remarkable.
2. Stabilo Boss Highlighter
You’d be lying if you said you haven’t owned this highlighter at least once in your life. And the reason is as simple as the pen itself: it’s just handy, with a unique design that doubles as an ergonomic miracle for highlighting. Simplicity at its finest.
3. Oreo Cookie
The cookie to end all cookies. What’s special about the Oreo Cookie is simply that it’s not special at all, it’s just a circular cream-filled chocolate biscuit just like, well, any other circular cream-filled chocolate biscuit. Doesn’t matter though, Oreo basically owns the idea now that it’s just easier to call every cream-filled chocolate biscuit an Oreo. Oh well, twist it, lick it and dunk it!
4. Converse Sneakers
What can we say that you don’t already know. It’s the everyday shoe for the everyday person, in rain, mud or shine. No doubt, it’s probably one of the most unassuming items of footwear on your shoe rack right now, yet more than likely, the most recognisable.
5. Kikkoman Soy Sauce Bottle
If you’ve ever had soy sauce, the odds are you’ve seen it in a bottle shaped like this. It’s one of the most beautiful designs on this list, exuding a subtly oriental vibe without the alienating effects of overly-cultured ornament and form. Tragically, the designer of this bottle Kenji Ekuan died in February. May he rest in peace.
6. Volkswagen Beetle
I love this car. Others hate it. But what we can all agree on, is that we all know it. This car remains an icon of the auto-mobile industry because of how little it has changed over decades of reiterations. The formula’s pretty simple – I guess it’s just a strange amalgamation of circles and semicircles. Kudos though.
7. Beats by Dre. Headphones
As a bit of a self-proclaimed audiophile, this is probably the one item on this list I truly hate. Writing this physically pains me, but it’s tough to deny that Beats were the headphones that made headphones cool again. It did this by creating a simple but punchy design, and throwing it on famous peoples’ heads.
8. Burberry Check
This list wasn’t going to be complete without a fashion entry, and it had to be the Burberry check. It’s a pretty cool pattern, and it’s become an identifier of the Burberry brand.
9. Apple iPod
The click-wheel. Just about the most ingenious thing ever. Enough said. We love you, Steve Jobs.
10. McDonald’s French Fry Cup
I love this one because it’s something we don’t notice until we, well, notice it. The golden arches on that bright red cardboard box is an image seared into my conciousness. And let’s be honest, seeing one of these cups brimming with golden fries is happiness in a nutshell.
11. Zippo Lighter
Not much to say here, but this is definitely the way to light a fire in style.
12. Smeg Fridge
So retro, so vintage, so cool! I know I recognise this fridge despite never seeing one in someone’s house. But for some reason, the Smeg Fridge is pretty much the only thing that comes to mind when we think of a ‘classic refrigerator’.
13. Barcelona Chair
This chair is a staple in office tower lobbies and the homes of any architect or designer. Designed by legendary architect Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, this chair has been called the platonic ideal of all chairs. In addition to this, I can definitely vouch for its comfort.
14. Bic 4-Colour Ballpoint Pen
I’m running out of things to say, no big deal though, this pen speaks for itself. Or should I say…writes for itself.
15. Fender Stratocaster
The Stratocaster, or the ‘Strat’ is simply the quintessential electric guitar. Having been played by great musicians and groups such as Eric Clapton and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, it’s not surprising that this guitar is embedded deep in musical culture. Its shape is iconic, one of the most imitated guitar designs.