Zeiss lenses have been around for over 120 years, but admittedly "product design has never been the foremost factor." In designing their new high-end Distagon lenses coming to the market at the end of 2013, Zeiss wanted to really consider aesthetics in the project. "The newly-defined design is intended to reflect the lenses’ unique character and make Zeiss lenses truly unmistakable in the future."
In a blog post, Zeiss goes into great detail explaining how and why design was given a lot of emphasis in the building of the new lens. “Zeiss lenses are known for their technical precision, excellent image performance and ergonomics. That will always be the case because we know photographers’ needs and user circumstances. But our new lenses should also fulfill the highest aesthetic expectations of our customers to become design objects in their own right.”
I don't want to even try and paraphrase what Zeiss has explained in great detail, there is just too much to cover. I recommend reading it yourself to get a grasp of how much care and precision they are putting into the upcoming 55mm f/1.4 and "the entire new range of mirrorless system cameras, as well as the cine and anamorphic families of lenses. In the future, the new design language will be applied to all further focal ranges of these series, as well as future lenses. The design of the high-end SLR lenses served as the template to develop the ideal form that will characterize how all ZEISS lenses will look in the future."
For more information and the whole story, head on over to the Zeiss Blog.