The Swiss Train Intercom

Train Intercom in Switzerland

Some years back, I embarked on a week-long hiking excursion in Switzerland. My expectation was that I’d see lots of mountains, vast green pastures, goats with bells, and quaint Swiss cottages.

What I hadn’t grasped, was the extent to which design pervades almost every aspect of Swiss culture. Now, it’s no secret that Switzerland holds design in high regard — after all they did invent what we now know as modern typography and minimalist design — so I expected to see terrific examples of art and architecture (and was not disappointed).

It was where I hadn’t expected to see it that made the biggest impression on me. Case in point: the Swiss train intercom.

Growing up in the New York metropolitan area, I’m accustomed to seeing lots of ugly, failing infrastructure. You steer clear of it for fear of getting electrocuted — or at the very least — a bad case of cooties.

This contraption really caught my attention. My inner “design guy” walked over and just stared at it. Why? It ticks a few boxes for me:

  • Well Made — It’s obviously been around for a while (guessing it’s about 50 years old) and doesn’t look like it’ll break any time soon.
  • Everything Has a Purpose — I’ll go out on a limb here and say if I want to call someone, I probably push down on one of those levers and then talk into that microphone. I believe every thing on a thing should do something, and if it doesn’t — then it shouldn’t be there.
  • Nice to Look At — Purpose doesn’t trump design. They should live happily together. Every piece on here has been enriched without compromising function. Don’t you just want to push those levers? I know I did. They’re smooth, and curved, and I imagined they would feel springy. And that color … as inviting as an orange creamsicle!

You might be thinking “Why on Earth is this camera strap company talking about a Swiss train intercom?”

The reason is, it pretty well sums up our design philosophy:

  • Well Made — We use strong materials, and assemble them to last with a high degree of workmanship.
  • Everything Has a Purpose — Each piece of hardware does something. Furthermore, it does what it looks like it does.
  • Nice to Look At — If you take each piece that does something, make it look and feel good, you enrich the experience of the user. If a particular color of strap begs a photographer to wear their camera, we’re all for it.

… and that’s why we care about a Swiss train intercom (plus, we like orange).