Design for a Better Tomorrow

Dieter Rams

Dieter Rams is quite arguably the most influential industrial designer of the past century. His extensive body of work includes more than 500 objects and furniture designs — from coffee grinders and razors to stereo components and projectors to universal shelving and seating designs — that are admired around the globe. Despite the variety and volume, his works illustrate a cohesive adherence to his philosophy of what makes good design.

PC 3 SV turntable designed by Dieter Rams, Wilhelm Wagenfeld and Gerd Alfred Muller for Braun, 1956. Photo by Wright.

Refined over several years, Rams arrived at his often-cited 10 Principles of Good Design in 1985, though his production up until then already eloquently exhibited these ideas. From the quality of the product to their ease of use and their clean, simple aesthetic, Rams’ designs are created with the relationship between the user and product in mind.

“Indifference towards people and the reality in which they live is actually the one and only cardinal sin in design.”
— Dieter Rams

Expanding upon the Bauhaus construct of form follows function, Rams places social consciousness and responsibility at the core of his design philosophy. In fact, each of Rams’ ten principles is rooted in the idea that good design can affect positive change, a characteristic that sets him apart.

HL 70 personal fan by Reinhold Weiss and Jurgen Gruebel for Braun, 1971. Photo by Wright

This approach to design seems counter intuitive to today’s setting where flashy, disposable products have become the norm. But it is precisely this that makes his design memorable, covetable, lasting and influential. His designs feature a refined elegance that expresses a timelessness that resonates with us still. That is why Apple’s calculator app (designed for the iPhone 3) was based on Rams’ earlier design. It is also why half a century later, Vistoe continues to produce Rams’ furniture designs. Further, it is the reason why so many of us have memories of using and living with his products. And finally, it is why we collect his designs today.

Dieter Rams succeeded in making his philosophy tangible by tying form and, ultimately, the relevance of mass production to his ideas. He remains utterly alone in producing a body of work so consistently beautiful, so right and so accessible. — Jony Ives
Dieter Rams FP 35 Super 8 Projector for Braun, 1972. Photo by Wright
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