ART/ARCHITECTURE Dieter Rams – Free Ebook

dieter Rams is one of the world’s greatest designers of everyday objects his mind which in other eras might have been employed making sculptures for altarpieces or precision scales for diamond traders is devoted to producing carefully and beautifully made calculators shelving office chairs TVs radios watches record players egg beaters fruit juices video cameras and electric shavers his career has been extraordinarily successful the company he made famous Braun was when he joined a medium-sized manufacturer of radios in Germany and grew to become a global Titan of consumer goods production as head of design Ramsey’s work has ended up in hundreds of millions of homes why is design important partly because poorly designed things slow us down and sadden us the stapler that doesn’t work the bag of walnuts that doesn’t open the TV remote control that hasn’t thought hard enough about what real people are actually like all our symbols of miscommunication and lack of empathy Ram shows us that capitalism need not produce poor quality products his life and work are a guide to the values that we might make more central to our lives and our businesses there are five underlying lessons to be taken from his work Rams wanted to reduce everything back to just a few things that matter most you can see this in one of his early products the PC 3sv radio there are many more things which could be done with a radio one could add in bass and tenor controls separate AM and FM dials an alarm clock an output cord for larger speakers and so on but Rams pushed in the opposite direction he made the on/off switch a part of the volume control which hadn’t been done before and which people argued against but the end result is deeply satisfying you have to be confident to dare to be simple with radios or in other areas of life for example in an expensive restaurant there’s pressure to order something elaborate even though deep down we might actually just feel like ordering cheese on toast being simple can make you vulnerable but simplicity is really an achievement it follows from a hard-won clarity about what matters when designing a toothbrush Ram spent weeks thinking about an experimenting with a ratio of the handle to the bristles the width of the handle the number of ridges for the thumb to grip on to and so on but this large amount of work is nowhere obvious in a final product this follows from a principle of modesty which Rams lives by and which goes back to the Roman poet Horace the art lies in concealing the art Ram’s has modesty as a person although he originally trained as an architect in a carpenter he wanted to make products that improve people’s lives rather than design spectacular things to promote his own glory the products he designed are all imbued with modesty they don’t try to attract your attention for no reason they’re happy to sit in the background and do the work such modesty stems from a lack of anxiety about being ignored one of Ramsey’s principles is that an object should be easy to live with and so easy to encounter for the first time that you could get rid of the instruction manuals Ramsay’s products never come with any instructions the object should just be obvious from the beginning this ability to create a welcoming experience for another person is a great skill not many people can do it well however because it derives from an unusual source remembering what it’s like to be distressed in his work Rams is in touch with what it’s like to be lost to feel abandoned and frustrated although his work looks serene it comes from knowing how easily we get angry and muddled and ashamedly confused by instructions which any normal adult should we feel be able to understand but we’re more like simpletons than we pretend to be we actually want things to be easy and user friendly but we don’t readily tell other people that we’re a bit stupid although everyone is in many ways which is why it’s the job of the designer or the hotel yeah or the customer feedback agent to remember with tenderness the fact that were all childlike in a little bit lost Rams is like a parent he’s making the world a bit friendlier for us Rams is not making things for actual six-year-olds rather he mixes insights about our childlike nature within a context of elegance and dignity for example this calculator comes with color buttons to show you whether main functions are remembering that everyone is more easily confused and they pretend to be should be a basis for the reform of architecture hotels street design websites car manufacture phone companies and books Rams was classic which means he tapped into things that don’t change this means we don’t have to buy new things all the time a classic book for instance is lavash will cause Maxim’s it’s a classic because the essential lessons in it are still useful for us to hear many hundreds of years after it was written overall the global economy needs to be more classic the fashion industry to take what is currently the least classic business could play more to our need to have items of clothing that are versatile and dignified in many context and less inclined to change every passing year we suffer from a romantic ideology which tends to emphasize and value what is new Ram’s in contrast is interested in what is permanent his goal was to create products that wouldn’t go out of date so fast so we wouldn’t have to throw them away so rapidly if you cared about bringing more attention and care to the little things of everyday life in 1650 you might have gone into painting the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer was an advocate for paying more attention to the humble objects of everyday life in his famous painting the little Street he portrays a life governed by simplicity and modesty Ram’s values the same things that Vermeer does but he’s turned these values into products that we can use in our own lives design has a big advantage over art it’s available for everyone we might only be able to see Vermeer as work once or twice every few years whereas Ramsey’s work we can buy and live with everyday all the intensity focus high standards and the pursuit of integrity that is found in art can be brought into the realm of everyday design and this is where it stands more of a chance of affecting people as they check the time or press the snooze button on their alarm grams shows us what good business could be elegant long-lasting dignified all capitalism should be like this it’s a sign of a problem that Ram’s feel so unique ideally all entrepreneurs would study his work and devote themselves to the values of simplicity and modesty at the heart of his worldview Ramsey’s mindset is currently very unusual we hope it will become mainstream and widespread you

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