The credit card history
Payment processing is one of the areas in which the financial giants have invested the most. From “Fast checkouts” to Cash app. That magical moment when the user pays, has been the obsession of many businessmen, entrepreneurs and designers.
In today’s letter we talk about the origins of the first credit card.
We travel to New York in 1949. Frank X. McNamara, from the Hamilton Credit Corporation, Ralph Sneider, and…
DIeter Rams and the ET calculator
Good design is creating something understandable and memorable. Great design is creating something memorable and meaningful. — Dieter Rams
Before you start reading today's letter, stop for a second, pour yourself a coffee or a wine, and hit play on the Libra Playlist I've prepared on Spotify and Apple Music. A Jazz collection, perfect for reading and relaxing with Miles Davis, Bill Evans or Roy Hargrove. …
Mario Bellini and the Model RR130 Totem stereo system
Last week we talked about the Beogram 4000, the turntable that Jacob Jensen had designed for Bang&Olufsen. Don’t worry if you didn’t read last week’s letter, or if you’ve arrived here by chance. This letter is not a continuation.
Mario Bellini came to Brionvega in 1970 to bring geometry to music. He brought the vision to create products whose function revolved around experiences. …
Jacob Jansen featuring Bang & Olufsen
Joni Mitchell, Canadian singer and artist of the 60s, used to say that she saw music as “fluid architecture”. I don’t quite know what she meant by those words. I just know that, at least for me, music is a flow of feelings.
During the second half of the 20th century, the Danish company Bang & Olufsen became a world reference in industrial design. …
Story of the Eclisse lamp by Vico Magistretti
An old broken lantern that I have just seen in a shop suggests to me a reflection: It is time to enlighten the human race. Yes, and already I am sad again: what it is to eat an oyster, and to meet a revolution! I become gloomy. Oh, what a horrible world! In it all toil, to be destitute, to be prostitute, to be killed, to be accustomed! — Les Miserables, Victor Hugo (1862)
The iconic SMEG FAB28 refrigerator
The history of SMEG has direction. Direction to aesthetics with origin in functionality. From the first household appliances, in 19th century France, when Charle Tellier, tired of climbing mountains in search of ice, invented the first refrigerator in 1876.
Today we’re taking a snack to talk about shape and color for delight.
In 1948 an Italian industrial designer named Vittorio Bertazzoni (Sr.) …
The origin of the political “left” and “right”.
We travel to Versailles, late August 1789, in the run-up to the French Revolution.
The National Assembly was discussing the drafting of a new Constitution. You know that France has not been very kingly for some time now, but at that time, politicians were discussing whether or not to give power to the king to veto a decision voted in the Assembly.
To his right sat…
The Vespa history
Flying Officer Allen dragged his drunken squadron mate into the tent and put him to sleep with his uniform on. The two twentysomethings had spent the night of January 6, 1944, drinking wine in Villacidro, in eastern Sardinia, where the 17th USAAF Bomb Group had set up shop after the island’s liberation. That evening they had first bombed Pontedera, home of the Piaggio aircraft plant.
In 1884 an Italian entrepreneur…
Ur Leica, the first compact camera
“We are constantly forgetting. Art resists and works against that natural and systematic erasure. There are facts. There are witnesses. There is memory. We have a past. There is mother history and there is literature”. — Daniel Ferreira.
We go back to 1913 in the city of Wetzlar, Germany. An engineer at the Ernst Leitz company named Oskar Barnack designs and develops the first 35-millimeter compact camera.