Richard Sapper is an 81-year-old German designer who’s been creating beautiful products for 60 years. He’s a world-renowned creator who has won multiple awards. But despite his spectacular career, he has one regret:
He could have been employed by Apple in Jony Ive’s position but he turned Steve Jobs down.
Sapper started out as a stylist for Daimler Benz in Stuttgart. He then opened a studio in Milan to consult for brands such as Fiat and Brionvega.
At Brionvega, Sapper designed consumer electronics and televisions. His later accomplishments include designing one of the best selling lamps of all time, the Tizio, and IBM’s ThinkPad 700C computer. Sapper has been IBM’s chief industrial design consultant since 1980. Some of his work is displayed as part of MOMA’s permanent collection in New York City. Sapper also teaches at Yale.
In an interview with Alyn Griffiths of Dezeen, Sapper explains why he turned down Steve Jobs’ offer for the job Jony Ive now holds.
“Jobs once wanted to hire me to do the design of Apple [computers] but the circumstances weren’t right because I didn’t want to move to California and I had very interesting work here that I didn’t want to abandon. Also, at that time Apple was not a great company, it was just a small computer company. They were doing interesting things so I was very interested, of course, but I had an exclusivity contract with IBM.”
When asked if he regrets the decision, Sapper replied: “Sure I regret it – the man who then did it makes $30 million a year! [Laughs] so how can you not regret it?”
Below are a couple of his iconic designs:
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