The designs of Apple products are often associated with a name: Dieter Rams. Yet the Hessian has never worked for the US company. Instead, he made a name for himself as a designer for Braun, where he worked for more than 40 years. His timeless, minimalist designs with their simple lines have become his trademark.
Dieter Rams was born in Wiesbaden on 20 May 1932. His grandfather was a carpenter, which had a decisive influence on Rams’ professional future. In 1947 Rams began studying architecture and interior design at the Werkkunstschule Wiesbaden (today’s RheinMain University of Applied Sciences). After one year he interrupted his studies to gain practical experience as a carpenter.
After his studies, which he completed with distinction in 1953, he initially worked for the Frankfurt architect Otto Apel. In 1955 Dieter Rams was hired by the electrical manufacturer Braun as an architect and interior designer. After six years with the company, he was promoted to Chief Designer and held this position until 1995.
Dieter Rams created the Braun design according to the principle “Less, but better”!
At Braun, Rams designed legendary products such as the Phonosuper SK 4 radio record player, which was released in 1956, and this already demonstrated the timeless design that would distinguish Rams’ work from then on. The device is housed in a case made of white metal and light wood and a cover made of acrylic glass. Because of the latter, the record player was colloquially called “Schneewittchensarg”. Other well-known products from Braun, whose optics Rams designed, were the world receiver T 1000, the loudspeaker LE1 and the slide projector D45.
In addition to his work for Braun, Rams also worked for other companies, including furniture manufacturer Vitsoe & Zapf and FSB, for whom he designed a series of window and door handles in 1986. Between 1981 and 1997 he was also professor of industrial design at the Hamburg University of Fine Arts. In 1997 Rams ended his activities and left Braun in the same year. During his decades of commitment to the company, he designed the visual appearance of more than 600 products that went on sale.
Dieter Rams was considered the “Cleaner of the nation” - with clear design guidelines
In the 1970s, Rams began to break down his design philosophy into a series of theses. According to this, good design is innovative, unobtrusive, aesthetic, honest, environmentally friendly, durable and consistent down to the last detail. It would also make a product useful and understandable. Last but not least, according to Rams, good design is as little design as possible. Among others, Apple’s long-time chief designer Jony Ive was influenced by Rams’ work, which is clearly evident in products such as the iMac and the first iPod.
Throughout his career, Rams has been inspired by numerous intuitions. In 1991, the Royal College of Art in London awarded him an honorary doctorate. In 2002 he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. Some of the products he designed are in the collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and the Dieter Rams Style Room at the Museum Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt also displays some of his most important works.
Quotes of Dieter Rams
Good design is as little design as possible.
Das Design sollte das Produkt sozusagen zum Sprechen bringen.
Less, but better.
Design should not dominate things, should not dominate people. It should help people. That's its role.
As designers, we have a great responsibility.
I don't like computers. I still like to do my drawings by hand.
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