Q and A: With Roland Heiler of Porsche Design Studio


Lai: Tell me about the importance of the design partnership between BlackBerry and Porsche Design.

Heiler: It’s a really good match between the two companies. When we approached BlackBerry several years ago, we felt that BlackBerry was the only partner that would fit our expectations and our positioning 100%. The BlackBerry is clearly positioned as a device for professionals. And our customers are very design-conscious and also most of them are involved in serious business. We want to provide our customers with a good working tool, which BlackBerry was and is today.

Lai: Porsche Design is known for its iconic, minimalist aesthetic. How does that fit with a piece of high technology such as a BlackBerry device?


Heiler: As with so many other products, smartphone designers tend to try too hard to put in too much design in order to distinguish themselves from each other. That makes the visual life of these items very short. They age very quickly. Porsche Design’s philosophy is to design things so that they last over time.

So for smartphones, we like to keep very clean shapes, as well as start with a very clean theme. If you look at the P’9983, even though it has a keyboard, we based it on the front of it having one glass surface going all the way through, even across the keyboard.

In the luxury market, you have to deliver two things: 1) a clean and sophisticated design, and 2) a very high level of precision manufacturing so the device is flawless. We are talking about tolerances of tenths of a millimeter. If the production quality is not there, very clean shapes can look very wrong. The object can suddenly look very inexpensive if the production quality doesn’t live up to it.

One of the reasons our expectations are extremely high is because our designs require this. BlackBerry is a partner that can deliver this quality. While BlackBerry works very closely with our designers, ultimately production quality is BlackBerry’s responsibility.

Here’s a good example. The Porsche Design logo plate is an inlay in the glass screen of the phone. This would look completely wrong if the tiny little split line encircling the plate isn’t very, very even and very, very fine. Because it IS like that, the P’9983 looks very precise and very beautiful.

Pick-up the rest of the interview over at Inside BlackBerry

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