Rams (2018) is a documentary directed by Gary Hustwit. It explores the work of designer Dieter Rams, who is famous for his work at Braun from the 1950s to 1995.
He’s known for his minimalist design, which influenced Jonny Ive who worked at Apple. While his product design is remarkable his overall design philosophy, which he developed in the mid-1970s, is probably more important.
Less but better.
After the Second World War, the Braun brothers believed in using modern design to build a better world. There’s a strong Bauhaus and Ulm Design school influence in the early electronics products they produced.
Many of the designs, like radios and record players, were designed using modern materials like clear plexiglass. They replaced consumer electronics items built using wooden cabinets in a style of Art Deco furniture. Braun’s products were often mobile devices, which the owner could take and use anywhere.
Rams wasn’t just a designer of record players, he was also a music buff. He was into the 1970s euro-jazz scene that was popular in Frankfurt at the time.
Rams had strong views about consumerism and ecological sustainability:
Good design is environmentally friendly.
He believes that products should be built to last, and that gimmicky and faddish design tends to make products look outdated faster.
A design shouldn’t take over and dominate the space. The people within it should dominate the space. For this reason his colours were often muted, white, black, grey, and beige. Our relationship with technology is one where people come first and design remains in the background. Architecture, design, consumer products, and technology are there to serve us, not to dominate our lives and living spaces.
Good design is as little design as possible.
In today’s eco-conscious world, his message is even more relevant than ever.