Although his focus was on the Macintosh, Jobs wanted to create a consistent design language for all Apple products. So he set up a contest to choose a world-class designer who would be for Apple what Dieter Rams was for Braun. The project was code-names Snow White, not because of his preference for the color but because the products to be designed were code-named after the seven dwarfs. The Winner was Hartmut Esslinger, a German designer who was responsible for the look of Sony’s Trinitron televisions. Jobs flew to the Black Forest region of Bavaria to meet him and was impressed not only with Esslinger’s passion but also his spirited way of driving his Mercedes at more than one hundred miles per hour.
Even though he was German, Esslinger proposed that there should be a “born-in-America gene for Apple’s DNA” that would produce a “California global” look, inspired by “Hollywood and music, a bit of rebellion, and natural sex appeal.” His guiding principle was “Form follows emotion”, a play on the familiar axiom that form follows function. He produced forty models of products to demonstrate the concept, and when JObs saw them he proclaimed, “Yes, this is it!” The Snow White look, which was adopted immediately for the Apple II c, featured white cases, tight rounded curves, and lines of thin grooves for both ventilation and decoration. Jobs offered Esslinger a contract on the condition that he move to California. They shook hands and , in Esslinger’s not-so-modest- words, “that handshake launched one of the most decisive collaborations in the history of industrial design.” Esslinger’s firm frogdesign, opened in Palo Alto in mid-1983 with a $1.2 million annual contract to work for Apple, and from then on every Apple product has included the proud declaration “Designed in California.”
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson