Porsche Design is a premium lifestyle brand with particular focus on technically inspired products. It was founded in 1972 by Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, grandson of Ferdinand Porsche (founder of the Porsche car company). Since 2003, Porsche Design has been a part of Porsche AG, the iconic German automobile manufacturer specializing in high-performance sports cars, SUVs and sedans.
The product portfolio of Porsche Design includes classic men’s accessories, a sport and fashion collection as well as electronic products and a men’s fragrance range. The products are designed in the Porsche Design Studio in Zell am See, Austria, and sold worldwide in the brand’s own stores, shop-in-shops, high quality department stores and exclusive retail outlets. Presently, Roland Heiler is the Chief Design Officer of Porsche Design Group.
With offices in Zell am See, Berlin and Ludwigsburg, Los Angeles and Shanghai, Porsche Design Studio also works for international clients, which has led to the creation of top-end consumer goods, household appliances and industrial products.
In April 2017, Porsche Design became a fully owned subsidiary of Porsche AG.
History of Porsche Design
Born in Stuttgart, the eldest son of Ferry Porsche headed up the Stuttgart-based sports car maker’s design studio from 1962 to 1972 – the period during which the Porsche 911 and the 904 race car were created. In 1972, he established his own design studio (Studio F. A. Porsche), relocating it two years later to Zell am See in Austria.
During the decades that followed, he designed accessories such as watches, spectacles and writing instruments. Working with a team of a dozen designers, he also styled a host of industrial products, household appliances and consumer products for well-known international companies. Today, the studio in Zell am See is one of the most renowned design houses in the world.
Ferdinand Alexander Porsche has designed all of the things men consider important. Many of his designs have become classics, which are even displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The unusual breadth of his work includes writing instruments, lighters, boats and even the Skytrain in Bangkok.
Ferdinand Alexander Porsche has received many awards and honors for his work as a designer. The Industrial Design Forum Hanover (iF) chose him as their “1992 Prizewinner of the Year”, and the President of Austria made him an honorary professor in 1999.
Ferdinand Alexander Porsche was born on December 11, 1935 in Stuttgart, the eldest son of Dorothea and Ferry Porsche, who later founded the sports car maker. Even as a small boy, he accompanied his father and grandfather Ferdinand to the engineering design office in Zuffenhausen.
When he was seven, the family moved to Zell am See to avoid the bombing. As a child, “Butzi” – as he was fondly known to his family – enjoyed designing and building his own toys. Upon his return to Stuttgart, he attended the Waldorf School and then studied at the Ulm School of Design. In 1958, he started work at the design office of what was then Porsche KG.
He soon gave a vivid demonstration of his design skills when he created the first plasticine model of a successor to the 356 series. The Porsche 911, developed directly from his drawings, was shown for the first time in September 1963 at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
Years later, it would be part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1962, he was appointed head of the Stuttgart-based sports car manufacturer’s design studio. The designs of all of the racing and sports cars that left the factory in the 1960s bear his hallmark, including the legendary 904 Carrera GTS long-distance race car.
In Fall 2003, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, together with other Porsche Design shareholders and Porsche AG, founded the Porsche Design Group (Porsche Lizenz- und Handelsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG), in which Porsche AG now holds a majority interest (65 % shares). The aim of this new company is to exploit the potential of the Porsche name in business areas unrelated to the auto industry and continue the life work of Ferdinand Alexander Porsche.
Porsche Design features prominently in these activities as well as the product portfolio for Porsche drivers and fans of the Porsche Design Driver’s Selection brand and the design work of the Porsche Design Studio in Zell am See.
In 2004, Porsche AG appointed Roland Heiler (who was the director of the Porsche Styling Studio in California at that time) as the Managing Director of Porsche Design. In 2005, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche decided to resign from the supervisory board of Porsche AG and to withdraw from active professional life.
In 2007, Roland Heiler became the Chief Designer of Porsche Design group. Ferdinand Alexander Porsche passed away at the age of seventy-six in 2012.
In 2017, Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG has acquired the remaining 35 per cent of the shares in Porsche Lizenz- und Handelsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG (Porsche Design Group) from a Porsche family investment company, making it a wholly owned subsidiary.
In 2021, Porsche Design won the honorary title “Red Dot: Design Team of the Year 2021”.
Porsche Design Timepieces
The Porsche Design legendary Chronograph I was the world’s first black watch as well as the first product produced by the luxury brand. In 1972, the timepiece caused a furore, as the self-winding chronograph – a concept that had previously been inconceivable – was entirely black and provocatively plain.
By releasing this timepiece, Professor Ferdinand Alexander Porsche was anticipating a trend that, while revolutionary at the time, defines the watch industry today. In 1980, Porsche Design revolutionised the watchmaking world with the first timepiece made from titanium ever to be seen. 20 years later, this was followed by the first watch to feature an aluminium case.
The launch of the Indicator in 2004 saw the brand reach a new milestone: For the first time, this model combined chronograph functionality with a purely mechanical, jumping digital display. This was made possible thanks to the world’s most complex watch mechanism produced in a limited run: Four spring barrels are required to power all functions reliably and the mechanism comprises a total of more than 800 individual parts.
In March 2014, the Porsche Design Group (Porsche Lizenz- und Handelsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG) and Eterna AG Uhrenfabrik, based in Grenchen, Switzerland, ended their license agreement for the development, production and sale of high-quality watches. All services associated with the relevant Porsche Design watches will still be guaranteed by Eterna. In addition, the two companies are set to collaborate in various technical fields.
In July 2014, Porsche Design Group (Porsche Lizenz- und Handelsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG) founded a subsidiary in Switzerland to continue its tradition of offering high-quality timepieces.
Porsche Design Timepieces AG, based in the Jurasuedfuß region of Switzerland, is responsible for developing and producing exclusive Porsche Design timepieces; marketing and sales are overseen by the Porsche Design Group, which is based in Ludwigsburg, Germany.
As has been the case for more than 40 years, Porsche Design timepieces are positioned in an exclusive niche in the luxury watch category. The products are available around the world in the luxury brand’s stores and from selected leading retailers.