Great Design Monday: Dieter Rams

shoutOut on 3/12/12 by travis.lyle1 in

(Dieter Rams portrait by Anne Brassier)

Dieter Rams: "Less, but better."

If you're reading this, you are, in one way or another, a lover of design. And, as a company which is all about design and the love of design, it would be wrong of us here at Springleap not to feed you info on the great masters who have influenced the modern design we see and live with every day. So, without any further ado, this addition to our Great Design series recognises and celebrates the influence of one of the greatest industrial designers of all time: Dieter Rams.

The Father of Modern Consumer Product Aesthetics

Dieter Rams didn't start out to be an industrial designer: in fact, he set out to be an architect and interior designer. He joined the German consumer product company Braun AG in 1955, and six years later, became the head of design, a position he held for 36 years, until 1997! In the time Rams spent with Braun, his minimalist style of design (guided by his motto "Less, but better.") became an iconic guideline which would go on to inspire the design of many of the iconic consumer products we know today.

Simplicity, durability, functional and innovative.

In creating timeless product designs, Rams set the standard that many modern consumer product and industrial designers look to. Expanding on his motto of simplicity, Rams had a set of ten principles which answered the question he posed to himself when considering each of his creations: 'Is my design good design?' According to Rams, good design:

  • Is innovative
  • Makes a product useful
  • Is aesthetic
  • Makes a product understandable
  • Is unobtrusive
  • Is honest
  • Is long-lasting
  • Is thorough down to the last detail
  • Is environmentally friendly
  • Is as little design as possible

Dieter Rams: A major influence on the design of Apple products

The distinctive style of Rams' products for Braun ensured that, even today, many of them are still in use and are still considered leading examples of design. It's these characteristics that have influenced some of the most widely-acclaimed products made by Apple, including the shape and interface design of the iPod (above) and the layout of the calculator app on the iPhone (below). Once you're started seeing the similarities between Braun products and those coming out of Cupertino, the paralells becomes obvious. 

For one designer to have had such a long and influential career speaks volumes about the simplicity and longevity of his designs - in the foreword to Ram's book 'As Little Design As Possible', Sir Jony Ives (head of design at Apple) wrote: "What Dieter Rams and his team at Braun did was to produce hundreds of wonderfully conceived and designed objects: products that were beautifully made in high volumes and that were broadly accessible".

You really don't get much better an endorsement than that!

If you enjoyed this design article, take a look at the many others in our Great Design Monday archive! 

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