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Dieter Rams

Genius, God, absolute master... We’re not entirely sure the man whose motto was “Weniger, aber besser/Less, but better” would have appreciated those superlatives. A simple “your design is good” would probably have sufficed. The same philosophy drives Jonathan Ive, who worships Rams, and for whom each Apple product is a technological tribute to the objects Rams designed during 40 years at Braun.

Born in 1932, in Wiesbaden, Dieter Rams grew up in a Germany shattered by the Second World War. He studied carpentry and then architecture before training at Otto Apel. His interest in Bauhaus and the Ulm School of Design, and his preference for functional design eventually led him to work at Braun. He was appointed head of design at the tender age of 23, unaware that one day his creations would end up at MoMA. He designed everything from radios and record players to fans and electrical appliances.

An industrial designer, product engineer and design theorist, Dieter Rams is a benchmark for le gramme and its founder Erwan Le Louër, who also started out in industrial design. In this impenetrable confusion of shapes, colours and noises, which Rams identified in his own day, le gramme’s approach to the design process strips objects down to the bare essentials, in which the simple expression of form following function is a source of emotion. This systematized approach to design reflects the values of honesty, simplicity and timelessness that Rams made his guiding principles.

The 10 rules of good design devised by Rams are now the 10 commandments for many designers, whether they create everyday objects, web interfaces or furniture. Good design, according to God himself, must be:

- innovative because it is always developed in tandem with innovative technology but can never be an end in itself.
- useful - it has to satisfy certain criteria, not just functional but also psychological and aesthetic.
- aesthetic because the products we use every day affect our person and well-being.
- long-lasting. It avoids being fashionable and is therefore never antiquated.
- unobtrusive, as an object is neither a decoration nor a work of art.
- thorough down to the last detail. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the user. Dieter Rams used to say that the designer is the user’s advocate in the company.
- makes a product understandable by clarifying a product so that it can speak for itself or is self-explanatory.
- environmentally friendly by conserving resources and minimizing physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.
- as little design as possible and concentrates on the essential aspects, the products are not burdened with non-essentials.
- honesty - it does not seek to make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is.

Named after the weight of their precious metals in grams, le gramme objects are a tangible reminder of the true weight and value of things.

 

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