Dieter Rams is the demigod of everyday design, the man behind classics like the Braun alarm clock and the Vitsoe shelving system. He's also the acknowledged inspiration for all products Apple.
Before there was Jonathan Ive at Apple, there was Dieter Rams at Braun (indeed, Ive, Apple's lead designer, has cited him as a source of inspiration). Rams is the man behind modern German product design, who pioneered the concept of good, accessible design for all. Born in 1932, Rams trained as an architect before joining German electronics company Braun, where he acted as head of design from 1961 to 1995. During the reign of Rams, Braun was the Apple of its time, maker of the most alluring household products anywhere. We thought we'd spend a day with Dieter, highlighting our favorite products.
Above: The first clock I ever owned was a Braun, and although it no longer wakes me in the morning, it sits on my desk, a testament to enduring design. Wake up with this Small Travel Alarm Clock, an updated version of the AB1A designed by Rams with Dietrich Lubs in 1994; $35 from Brookfarm General Store.
Above: Brew your coffee in this longtime kitchen staple: the Braun KF 400 Coffee Maker (originals are available on eBay for around $40).
Above: Store your books with the 606 Universal Shelving System. The system offers a combination of modular components from shelves, cabinets, and tables hung from aluminum tracks that Rams designed for Vitsoe; it has been produced continuously since 1960. For more information, contact Vitsoe (also see Wall Mounted Shelving Systems).
Above: Listen to your vintage vinyl collection on the Braun PC3 SV Turntable; we found this one on eBay for $559.
Above: To learn more about the German designer, pick up a copy of Dieter Rams: As Little Design as Possible. Written by Sophie Lovell (with a foreword by Jonathan Ive), this is "The definitive monograph on Dieter Rams’ life, work, and ideas," according to Phaidon. Image via Selectism. N.B. Last year's SF MoMA exhibit, "Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams," included this short video of Rams in conversation with curator Joseph Becker.
1) Good design is innovative.
2) Good design makes a product useful.
3) Good design is aesthetic.
4) Good design makes a product understandable.
5) Good design is unobtrusive.
6) Good design is honest.
7) Good design is long-lasting.
8) Good design is thorough, down to the last detail.
9) Good design is environmentally friendly.
10) Good design is as little design as possible.