Dieter Rams. Photo by Gary Hustwit.

Dieter Rams

Two weeks ago, a small group of our Headway crew (mixed with crew from design, development, and marketing) took the short trip down to Milwaukee for the RAMS documentary premiere by Gary Hustwit.

I saw the documentary pop up on kickstarter a couple years ago and decided to back it based on Gary’s other films that I had the pleasure of viewing and enjoying; Helvetica, Objectified, and more recently, Workplace.

The Braun SK55

I believe this to be one of the most iconic designs Rams and co created to date. The combination of organic and artificial shapes, color, layout, and function is remarkable – free of the unnecessary and full of intentionality.

I’m currently in the market for a record player and have been trying to stumble across one at second hand stores and antique shops, among some other iconic Braun products.

Braun SK55 | 1963 | Dieter Rams & Hans Gugelot. Photo by Andrew Kim.

Braun SK55 | 1963 | Dieter Rams & Hans Gugelot. Photo by Andrew Kim.

Dieter’s 10 Principles for Good Design

Dieter’s work and his principles have impacted my life and outlook for as long as I can remember being intrigued about good, meaningful design. His iconic quote “Less, but better.” has also been a guiding light for me into minimalism, essentialism, and simplistic design.

If you’re not familiar with his principles, Ready Mag created a neat little mini-site featuring them and some of Rams’ work.

Good design is

  1. innovative
  2. makes a product useful
  3. aesthetic
  4. helps understand a product
  5. unobtrusive
  6. honest
  7. durable
  8. consequent to the last detail
  9. concerned with the environment
  10. as little design as possible

 

The Film

The film was inspiring and thought-provoking. Scored by Brian Eno, it provided a minimalistic account of Ram’s life at Braun and beyond.

 

Oriental Theatre, Milwaukee, WI. Taken on my iPhone 8+

One remarkable thing that stood out to me is that he’s lived in the same home for the past 40+ years, and taking that a step further, he has possessed many of the same items and most of them in the same exact spot. Among those possessions were many Braun works he and his team designed, but also some from other companies, produced by close friends and colleagues.

 

“As the trees grow they need to be trimmed, and that is design as well.”

– Dieter Rams

 

His most recent technological device is an iPhone, gifted to him by Jony Ive, serves as a paperweight on his desk.

To facilitate the film, his assistant prints off emails for him to read, which he replies back to using his typewriter, which she then scans email back to the sender.

He believes in updating and re-engineering things, not creating entirely new things just for the sake of creating new.

Some of his designs have stayed the same and stood the test of time, while others have continued to be iterated on, most notably the furniture with Vitsoe, a company that began designing with in his time at Braun.

At the time of this post, there are many more premieres upcoming around the world and in the USA – view upcoming dates.

If you don’t get a chance to see it in a premiere, you’ll have to get it when it comes out!

Make a Difference Through Design

The title above is a personal mantra I created almost 4 years ago – to design with understanding and knowledge, purpose and intent, for beauty and for utility.

Below is an excerpt from a speech Deiter delivered in 1976 to an audience in New York:

“Ladies and gentlemen, design is a popular subject today. No wonder because, in the face of increasing competition, design is often the only product differentiation that is truly discernible to the buyer.

I am convinced that a well-thought-out design is decisive to the quality of a product. A poorly-designed product is not only uglier than a well-designed one but it is of less value and use. Worst of all it might be intrusive.”

– Dieter Rams

Is is as true today as it was back then, more than 40 years after it’s delivery.

The barriers of creation and production have gone down considerably. You can ship a new product, a new solution, in significantly less time – both for physical and especially for digital products.

Products can be intrusive, and with the wrong intent and goals, they will be. We see this every year as new applications steal attention, conversations, and moments of life.

As creatives, designers, developers, entrepreneurs, we have the ability to make real change and improve lives. Let’s see to it that we live up to the gifts we’ve been blessed with, and the talents we’ve honed.

“Back to purity, back to simplicity!”