Dieter Rams was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, in 1932. Strongly influenced by the presence of his grandfather who was a carpenter, Rams’s early awards for carpentry led to him training as an architect as Germany was rebuilt in the early 1950s.
After pursuing a career as an architect for a few years, Dieter Rams joined Braun, the German manufacturer for electronic devices as an industrial designer. Within a few years he became chief of design, a position he held from 1961-1995. During his time at Braun, he and his team designed many iconic devices ranging from record players to furniture and storage systems; items that are considered design classics today.
He is also credited with the memorable phrase “Weniger, aber besser” which translates to “Less, but better”. Dieter Rams employed elements as graphic design, form, proportion, and materiality to create order within his designs. His work never tries to be the center of attention, rather he allows his work to become part of the environment through precision and order by creating a fusion between an object and its surroundings.
Dieter Rams is also well known for his 'Ten Principles for Good Design'. Don’t worry if you are not familiar with them, we have composed a compilation of them below:
1. Good design is innovative
Innovation offers endless possibilities for development in various areas. Technological development is always supporting new opportunities for innovative design while always developing in tandem with each other.
2. Good design makes a product useful
A product should bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only of functional nature, but also concerning psychological and aesthetic aspects. Good design emphasises the practicality of a product whilst stripping away anything that could possibly detract from it.
3. Good design is aesthetic
The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness as products we use every day affect our personal feelings and well-being. Only well-executed and aesthetic objects can be beautiful in their form and function.
4. Good design makes a product understandable
Good and well-executed design clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product talk and is at best self-explanatory.
5. Good design is unobtrusive
Products exist to fulfill a purpose and are therefore like tools. They should neither be decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.
6. Good design is honest
Design should not elevate a product; it should not make it seem more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It should not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
7. Good design is long-lasting
Design should avoid being fashionable and therefore should never appear antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.
8. Good design is thorough, down to the last detail
Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy during the design process show respect towards the consumer.
9. Good design is environmentally-friendly
Design should make an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It should aim to conserve resources and minimise physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.
10. Good design is as little design as possible
Less, but better - because it concentrates on the essential aspects, the products should not be burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.
Apart from influencing the world of Industrial Design, Dieter Rams has also had an impact on a company we all know. Apple’s first iPod draws influence from a portable radio by Braun from 1963, the iPhone’s digital calculator looks very similar to Braun’s design of the manual ET44 model (1977) and a few other products from the Californian brand seem to have been influenced by Dieter Rams - a legacy that lasts.