Good design is making something intelligible and memorable. Great design is making something memorable and meaningful. - Dieter Rams
No designer has had a stronger direct influence upon modern consumer industrial design than Dieter Rams. Whether it's an Apple iPhone, a Bowers & Wilkins speaker or a Plus Minus Zero CD player, the shadow of Dieter Rams' designs still loom across the landscape of today's best designs. Rams was the head of design at Braun, the German consumer manufacturer, in which he emerged as one of the most influentials industrial designers in the late 20th century. All the products were elegant, minimalistic, easy to use and at the same time, they conveyed a strong visual language.SK4 radio and record player. Abandoning the traditional wooden cabinet, they devised an unapologetically industrial metal case for the SK4 with two pale wooden sides. The operating panel was positioned on the top next to the turntable, rather than hidden away at the side. Originally the cover was to have been made of metal, but it vibrated too much in tests and was replaced with transparent plastic which exposed the mechanics of the record player. Rather than being repulsed by the sight of electrical apparatus, consumers considered it chic and transparent lids became an industry standard. The plastic lid also gave the SK4 its nickname – “Snow White’s Coffin”.
“I think that good designers must always be avant-gardists, always one step ahead of the times,” he said in a speech to the Braun supervisory board in 1980. “They should – and must – question everything generally thought to be obvious. They must have an intuition for people’s changing attitudes. For the reality in which they live, for their dreams, their desires, their worries, their needs, their living habits. They must also be able to assess realistically the opportunities and bounds of technology.”
His design mantra could be translated in 10 principles:• Good design is innovative. • Good design makes a product useful. • Good design is aesthetic. • Good design helps us to understand a product. • Good design is unobtrusive. • Good design is honest. • Good design is durable. • Good design is consequent to the last detail. • Good design is concerned with the environment. • Good design is as little design as possible. Less and More. Very few companies these days adhere to these principles, one of them is Apple (as Rams himselfs mentions in the film Objectified). There's no denying you can clearly see the long shadow of influence of Dieter Ram's work in Apple's Senior Vice President of Industrial Design, Jonathan Ive's work for Apple.