Dieter Rams .. “My aim is to omit everything superfluous so that the essential is shown to the possible advantage…”
German industrial designer, Dieter Rams has established himself as one of the most influential designers of the 20th century. His name has been strongly associated with the consumer products company Braun for which he had been working for over 40 years, and the Functionalist school of industrial design.
This video visits a traveling exhibit celebrating the work of Dieter Rams during its stop at the Design Museum London. Director Deyan Sudjic and Michael Tyburski
Courtesy of Cool Hunting
Dieter Ram’s famous 606 Shelving system
For 40 years, from 1955 until 1995, Dieter Rams designed or oversaw the design of over 500 products for the German electronics manufacturer Braun.
Audio equipment, calculators, shavers and shelving systems are just some of the products created by Dieter Rams, each item holds a special place in the history of industrial and furniture design and has established Dieter Rams as one of the most influential designers of the late 20th century.
This exhibition is the first UK definitive retrospective of Dieter Rams’ career in over 12 years. Showcasing landmark designs, this exhibition examines how Dieter Rams’ design ethos inspired and challenged perceptions of domestic design and assesses Dieter Rams’ lasting influence on today’s design landscape.
Archive film footage, models, sketches, prototypes and images taken by international photographer Todd Eberle will be displayed alongside specially commissioned interviews with Dieter Rams’ contemporaries, which include Jonathan Ive, Jasper Morrison, Sam Hecht and Naoto Fukasawa.
Dieter Rams’ elegant products challenged original concepts of design thought by reducing electrical switches to a minimum and arranging them in an orderly manner, transparent plastics and wooden veneers were mixed and colour schemes were limited to tones of pure whites and greys, the only splash of colour being allocated to switches and dials.
Dieter Rams defined an elegant, legible, yet rigorous visual design language, identified through his ‘Ten Principles’ of good design, which, amongst others stated that good design should be innovative, aesthetic, durable and useful.
Heavily influenced by the Bauhaus and Ulm School of Art in Germany, Dieter Rams pioneered a design spirit which embraced modernity and placed functionality above everything else, resulting in designs that were free of decoration, simple in function and embodied a cohesive sense of order.
Born in Germany in 1932, Dieter Rams trained in architecture and interior design before joining Braun in 1955 where he took advantage of electronic and engineering advances made during the Second World War to realise a sophisticated re-interpretation of domestic appliances
Back in the early 1980s, Dieter Rams was becoming increasingly concerned by the state of the world around him – “an impenetrable confusion of forms, colours and noises.” Aware that he was a significant contributor to that world, he asked himself an important question: is my design good design?
As good design cannot be measured in a finite way he set about expressing the ten most important principles for what he considered was good design. (Sometimes they are referred as the ‘Ten commandments’.)
Here they are.
Good design is Innovative
The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.
Good design makes a product useful
A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasises the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.
Good Design is aesthetic
The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products we use every day affect our person and our well-being. But only well-executed objects can be beautiful.
Good design make a product understandable
It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product talk. At best, it is self-explanatory.
Good design is unobtrusive
Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.
Good design is honest
It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
Good design is long-lasting
It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.
Good design is thorough, down to the last detail
Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.
Good design is environmentally-friendly
Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimises physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.
Good design is as little design as possible
Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials.
Back to purity, back to simplicity.