Dieter Rams - Vitsoe Portrait

Good Product Design: Dieter Rams Was Considered The Nation’s Cleaner

“I did not know Braun at all. Nevertheless, I applied for the job. So did my colleague. It was a kind of bet: Which of us would get feedback on his application? I got an answer”, says Dieter Rams, who worked for years as chief designer at Braun, the electrical appliance manufacturer, and is considered the grandfather of Apple design.

Rams completed an apprenticeship as a carpenter before becoming an architect

Rams was born in 1932 in Wiesbaden. Here he came into contact with the carpentry trade at an early age through his grandfather, who was a master carpenter. Influenced by the values conveyed to him, Rams began an apprenticeship as a carpenter, which he interrupted in 1947 to study “Architecture and Interior Design” at the Werkkunstschule Wiesbaden. After passing his diploma, even with distinction, Rams worked from 1953 – 55 in the renowned architectural office “Otto Apel” before joining Braun in the same year.

At Braun, Rams were initially employed as an interior designer before he devoted himself to his first tasks as a product designer from 1956. For example, he initially revised a radio design for the Wohnungskunst-Verband, an association which was committed to the production and sale of reform furniture, but shortly afterward he was entrusted with his first completely independent product development: the PA 1 automatic slide projector. Subsequently, Dieter Rams worked on the SK 4 radio-phono unit in collaboration with Hans Gugelot, who was a lecturer at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm at the time. The first direct collaboration with the HfG Ulm was established.

Dieter Rams has always made Braun designs

Almost five years later, Rams were appointed head of the product design department at Braun. But this was only the first major leap in his career. In 1986 he was appointed “Director of Product Design” and in 1988, after a creative period of more than 30 years at Braun, he was even appointed “General Representative”.

Dieter Rams have constantly developed and improved the design of Braun electrical appliances over all these years, but he does not see himself as the inventor of Braun design. Nor, a fortiori, as an “executor” of other people’s ideas, because he “has always made Braun design”.

As a designer he had a great responsibility

In addition to his work as chief designer at Braun, Rams taught as professor of industrial design at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg from 1981 to 1997. In addition, his products have been shown in numerous exhibitions in Germany, the USA, Sweden, England, Portugal, Japan, Russia and other countries. Furthermore, Rams has received countless honors on various levels, including the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2002 and the Design Award of the Federal Republic of Germany for his life’s work in 2007.

Not to forget the various offices, as well as honorary posts, for which Rams has been active over all these years: Member of the “Deutscher Werkbund”, member of the board, president and honorary donor of the German Design Council, member of the board of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design and member of the Academy of Arts in Berlin.

Today Rams lives with his wife in his house in Kronberg in Taunus and recently celebrated his 80th birthday.

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