Dieter Rams, The God of Pristine Minimalism

A look at the man who should be getting 50% of Apple’s profits.


Gizmodo is up with an all too-short excerpt of a book that every last design fan should own or buy, immediately: Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams, edited by Klaus Kemp and Keiko Ueki-polet. (The book was also the exhibition catalog for a show of the same name.) A money quote, indicating the crossroads that many of Rams’s products represented both his long-time employer, Braun, and the wider world:


The time was ripe for an innovative radio, which simultaneously morphed into a paradigmatic work by the designer Dieter Rams. It reflects both cosmopolitan attitudes and mobility, two characteristics that are considerably more important today. Lifting a flap on the block-shaped enclosed body reveals a complex operating area comprising scale [display], tuning knobs and connection jacks whose diversity contrasts with the smooth, uniform exterior. You already gain a sense of the big, wide world of shortwave opening up through eight shortwave radio bands in addition to long wave and medium wave.

Obviously, Rams’s philosophy goes far beyond simply being in the right place at the right time–otherwise, he wouldn’t be the man from whom Apple has basically stolen every one of its product designs in the last ten years–most notably the iPhone 4, which is stunningly Rams-ian, with its metal edges and round buttons.

So to satisfy your appetite for a little more meat, here’s two unmissable interviews with Rams himself, where he talks about what motivated some of his best-known designs:

Check out the Gizmodo post, then the book, at Amazon.

And don’t miss our slideshow of Rams’s work.

[Photograph by Luke Hayes, courtesy of the Design Museum]

About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.