Design By F.A.Porsche
Ferdinand Alexander Porsche (born December 11, 1935, in Stuttgart, Germany), nicknamed "Butzi", son of Ferry Porsche, grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, is a designer whose best known product is the first Porsche 911.
Being born the first son of sportscar company founder Ferry Porsche F.A. Porsche was nearly destined to be involved in the development of cars. After his grandfather and his father were engineers, he got more involved into working out the looks of a product. He never thought of himself as kind of an artist like a designer could be considered, but more as a technically talented craftsman in shaping. After attending Waldorf education he began studying industrial design in Ulm, Germany but was soon dismissed by the examination board, because his talent was doubted. In 1957 he started practical training at the body design department of the family owned sportscar company under design director Erwin Komenda.
When it came to the designworks of the bodyshell for the company's so far most successful car, the Porsche 911, Ferdinand Aleaxander was heavily involved as it was family tradition that every generation of the Porsche family took part in the genesis of a new car generation. It was Ferry Porsche wishing the successor of his 356 should provide more space and comfort in the cabin (though he was also cited: "Comfort is not what makes driving fun, it is more on the opposite."). Especially the boot should have provided more space. Ferdinad Alexander made first drafts which were accepted very well. But Komenda did not walk in line and made as F.A. and Ferry complained changes on his own not being approved. Ferry set the main attributes concerning wheelbase, power figures and suspension and after Komenda still did not cooperate he took F.A.'s drawings to the bodyshell manufacturer Reutter across the street. They gave the actual shape to the 901 (The original project code, changed to 911 after intervention of Peugeot who had a trademark protection on three-number-combinations with '0' in the middle.) as it was presented on 1963's Frankfurt Motor Show. Production began in 1965.
Ferdinand Alexander, also known for his nickname 'Butzi', shaped another important car, the Porsche 904. He states the 904 was his favorite work for Porsche. Its bodyshell was made of fibreglass-reinforced resin at the aircraft company Heinkel. The car was to be approved by racing homologation officers until a set date in order to attend the same year's racing season. Thus the development team was under extreme time pressure. F.A. likes the design of the 904 best as there was no time for anyone to demand or initiate changes, so it is his most original draft.
After the family decided to change the company's legal form and to keep the family out of its management Ferdinand Alexander founded his own industrial design company, Porsche Design, in Stuttgart, Germany which was later moved to Zell am See, Austria where the Porsche family owns an estate called Schüttgut. The first product Porsche Design came up with was a chronograph wristwatch made by Swiss watchmaker company Orfina. Its design started during F.A. was still working at the Porsche Style bureau. It was launched in 1973 and was different from other chronograph wristwatches as its case and bracelet were made out of matt black chromed steel. It was intended as accessoire for Porsche drivers and sold by the Porsche dealers. It operated the then new movement Valjoux 7750 which is today still the most widespread mechanical movement for chronograph wristwatches. As many customers would have liked a normally coloured watch a version with glassblasted stainless steel was issued. Later the movement was changed to the Lemania 5100 which was a simple and rugged movement mainly used for military watches. The Porsche Design Chrono I was made in different versions (color of case and straps, print on dial) for several country's air forces as well as the NATO alliance.
In 1978 F.A. teamed up with Swiss watchmaker International Watch Company (IWC) to develop a wristwatch combining a non-magnetic automatic movement and a compass, the so-called Kompassuhr. The movement was housed in a hinge-attached upper case that could be flapped to give sight on the compass in the lower part of the case. Its cases and bracelet was made out of PVD coated aluminum (matt black or matt olive). Late versions had the cases and bracelet made out of titanium. IWC pioneered use of titanium in watch cases/bracelets together with F.A. in the development of the Titan Chronograph launched in 1980. The Titan Chronograph was the first watch to use titanium in wristwatches. IWC had to develop working processes paying attention to titanium's specific attributes. The unique design aspect of the Titan Chronograph were the pushers to operate the stopwatch functions being integrated in the case's contour.
F.A.'s appeal to using unusual materials showed in the very rare Chrono II made by IWC. Its case was made of glassblasted aluminum with bracelet made out of fibre-reinforced resin. This watch also employed integrated pushers.
Watches are still a main business of Porsche Design. In 1996 the Swiss watchmaker Eterna, which invented the ball bearing for the winding rotor used in automatic movements, was bought by F.A. holding company.
The Porsche Design product suffering most often from plagiarism is probably the sunglasses with drop-shaped lenses, which was issued during the 80s in a lot of weird colour combinations e.g. purple lenses with golden or white frame. F.A. designed many more spectacles. Most often they had some unique attributes — e.g. a saddle shaped cushion adapting to the nose shape automatically and opening symmetrically through an internal cam mechanism. The drop-shaped spectacle had a quick release mechanism to provide quick lens changes. One sunglass even had magnetically held lenses. Another one got its shape from the intended production method: its shape was accommodated to a sandcasting process of titanium. The production issue was actually not made of titanium, but the shape remained.
Transportation design remained an issue on F.A. Porsche. He made several studies for metropolitan trains, a motorcycle, several bicycles and a slightly dolphin-shaped racing boat called Kineo.
As the company grew the product categories diversified. There are three possibilities how designs made by Porsche Design can appear: the Porsche Design brand products made exclusively for Porsche Design, products bearing the manufacturer's name and the writing 'Design by F.A. Porsche' and products with no hint of Porsche Design at all. Porsche Design came up with several bathroom designs, a washing machine, furniture, knives, TVs, desk lamps e.g. one with 3 telescopic radio antennas attaching the light bulb holder to the base and one employing design aspects of a guillotine in its pull-out mechanism, tobacco pipes with air-cooled-engine-inspired cooling fins, pens made out of wire-cloth used in oil hoses for racing engines, computer monitors, computer external hard drives, coffee makers, and even a grand piano for an Austrian manufacturer Bösendorfer.
The formerly completely private owned Porsche Design company belongs in the meantime to a cooperation company between F.A. Porsche and the Dr.-Ing. hc F. Porsche AG of which F.A. holds roughly 13%. F.A. Porsche retired in 2005 due to his state of health. He was given the title honorary chairman of the supervisory board, a title that was originally invented for his father when he retired.