A is for Apple, D is for Dieter

Jake Goretzki writes:

According to one of the so-called ‘ten commandments‘ of the German industrial designer Dieter Rams, “Good design is as little design as possible”, something that is clear from the retrospective running at the Design Museum in London (until 7th March). Rams has a cult following among design enthusiasts for his enduringly simple, elegant designs for Braun from the 1950s until the mid 1990s. For his fans, that exhibition space full of stereos, toasters and coffee grinders is, well: it’s what Heaven’s branch of Curry’s might look like, surely.

Two thoughts struck me as I left.

Firstly, if plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery, is Dieter Rams the most flattered industrial designer alive today? Without his influence, it’s certain that much of modern product design would look very different – including Jonathan Ive’s celebrated work for Apple, up to and including this week’s iPad.

Secondly, how did it come to be that an iconic, widely emulated and now ‘cult’ brand today only really exists as a largely forgettable range of electric toothbrushes and vegetable steamers? In an age where brands hunger for authenticity and ‘cool’ credentials, the brand that ‘did Apple before Apple’ could surely be working harder and making more of its credentials.

As Rams’ fifth commandment says, good design is unobtrusive. But to my mind, Braun’s fate feels like unobtrusiveness to excess.

The picture at the top of the post comes from slamxhype blog, and is used with thanks. Slamxhype’s post on the exhibition has a fantastic collection of pictures of Rams’ work.

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