Dieter Rams studied architecture and interior design at Wiesbaden Arts and Crafts School from 1947 to 1953. In 1955, he started his work for Braun where he soon became the head of Product Design. Since 1981, Dieter Rams has acted as Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Hamburg. One of Germany’s best-known and much-loved industrial designers, he is considered one of the great representatives of functionalism. Over the years Rams has received numerous design awards.
Recently Rams’ work has been re-appraised in the context of its influence on Jonathan Ive of Apple and his design of such popular products as the iPod. In the documentary film ‘Objectified’, Rams stated that Apple is the only company designing products according to his principles:
“When you look at the Braun products by Dieter Rams - many of them at New York’s MoMA - and compare them to Ive’s work at Apple, you can clearly see the similarities in their philosophies way beyond the sparse use of colour, the selection of materials and how the products are shaped around the function with no artificial design, keeping the design “honest.”
Dieter Rams’ 10 Design Commandments:
Good Design should:
- be innovative
- make a product useful
- be aesthetic
- help a product be understood
- be unobtrusive
- be honest
- be durable
- be consistent to the last detail
- be concerned with the environment
- be as little design as possible
Good design never dies…
Jonathan Ive’s dedication to “honesty” and “simplicity” in design pays great homages to Dieter Rams’ 10 Commandments in Design. The following image shows the simplicity of Apple’s design over the past couple of decades and the similarities between their own and some of Rams’ designs:
…and some designers never retire
Jacob Jensen - now retired himself - believes that creative people never retire. His design studio, Jacob Jensen Design, has been operational for over five decades and seems as busy now as ever it was in the past.
Jensen states: “In my view, constructing a fountain pen, writing a poem, producing a play, or designing a locomotive, all demand the same components, the same ingredients: perspective, creativity, new ideas, understanding, and first and foremost, the ability to rework, almost infinitely, over and over.”
There is thus a lot of trial and error which is involved in creating successful designs with a consistency to the amount of work involved; the work is often ceaseless and under the control of but one person: the creative force. Signature style or not, as fans of Apple under Jonathan Ive; Braun under Rams, or Bang and Olufsen under Jacob Jensen will concur, if a consumer brand is to achieve true design approbation it needs to be the unfettered vision of but one person.