09 August 2012

Dieter Rams: As Little Design As Possible

Dieter Rams: As Little Design As Possible
Dieter Rams: As Little Design As Possible, written by Sophie Lovell and published by Phaidon, profiles one of the world's most famous industrial designers. Dieter Rams, who was head of design at Braun for over thirty years, designed hundreds of consumer products, including the ET66 calculator, the iconic white SK4 record player, and the aluminium T1000 world-band transistor radio.

The book includes a foreword by Jonathan Ive, Apple's chief designer, who is the nearest equivalent to Rams in contemporary industrial design. Working with Steve Jobs, Ive produced a series of consumer-technology devices (including the iMac, iPhone, iPod, and iPad) that conformed to the "ten principles of good design" that Rams formulated.

Rams felt that successful design should be innovative, useful, aesthetic, understandable, honest, unobtrusive, long-lasting, thorough, environmentally friendly, and should involve "as little design as possible". That last maxim, adapted from Mies van der Rohe's 'less is more', became the title of Lovell's book.

In her preface, Lovell writes that Rams told her: "Why on earth do we need another book about me?" Thus, while there are occasional quotes footnoted as "Rams, in conversation with the author", Rams clearly didn't give Lovell a formal interview. There are, however, plenty of glossy photos fetishising beautiful radios, clocks, and other objects from the past fifty years.