10 rules for a good product from Braun designer Dieter Rams


10 rules for a good product from Braun designer Dieter Rams

In the 1960s, the Braun technique, designed by Rams, was an innovation. Then the bulkiness and complexity in the design of household appliances were replaced by minimalism, compactness, functionality.

As a world renowned designer, Rams founded the Dister and Ingerborg Rams Foundation with his wife to popularize his own design philosophy. Rams began promoting his vision in 1980. His concept was ten simple rules for a good product that he follows throughout his life.

1. Ergonomics

Dieter Rams was born in the German city of Wiesbaden in 1932. At the age of 15 he entered an art school, studied architecture and design. He completed an internship in a carpentry workshop in Kelkheim, after which he continued his studies and received a diploma.

After training, he entered the service of a local architect, from 1953 to 1955 he helped develop projects for American consulates in West Germany. But the architecture did not greatly captivate young Rams.


In 1955, Rams changed his specialization: he went through a competition to become in-house designers at Braun. He subsequently took over the design department and worked for the company for 40 years.

In 1956, he worked with instructor Hans Gugelot on the SK4 turntable for Braun. Hans Gugelot is an industrial designer and one of the founders of the Ulm School of Design. Rams and Gugelot were the first to decide to abandon the bulky wooden case, the “chest” format, and the retro design.

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“During this time, it was normal for electrical goods to look like furniture. I wanted a more technical view of these things, “- said Rams in an interview.

The turntable Rams created was metal with two wooden sides in light colors. The control panel was located on top, near the disk, and not on the side. Therefore, buttons and toggle switches have become more visible and accessible.

The first thing the owner of the turntable saw was the control room. He didn’t have to bend over and look at the buttons located at the end.

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Rams replaced the original metal cover with a transparent plastic one. Unlike metal, it did not vibrate and opened the mechanical part of the player to users. Customers liked the solution and soon became an industry standard. For the plastic cover, the device is popularly nicknamed “Snow White’s coffin”.

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2. Ease of use

Rams brought simple form and functionality to the design. He was so immersed in his work that he spent 18 weeks looking for the convenient location of the handles on the transistor. Making the buttons on the calculator multi-colored is also his idea. As well as place the handle of the hair dryer at an angle, so that it is more convenient to dry your hair from the back.

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I believed the gauges were supposed to be lightweight, not overloaded with functions that only technicians could understand. In addition, products must be designed to be understood.

We knew that most people don’t read manuals, and we had the idea to assign different functions to different colors. Small strokes of color make the thing brighter.

Dieter Rams

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3. Implementation of innovations

Rams paid attention not only to small details, but used new technologies to improve instruments. Replacing large lamps in an audio player with transistors allowed Rams to make audio systems several times more compact.

The first modular audio system is also a joint development of Rams and Gugelot. These are Atelier 1 Hi-Fi system and L1 speakers. Prior to this project, all audio systems consisted of a single module, into which both speakers and a turntable were integrated. Rams divided the device into several independent modules, the device became more compact. This structure soon became the standard.

Atelier 1 and L1 were the same proportions as SK4. Therefore, they were combined and used together.

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The next development was the L2 speaker on a metal stand.

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4. Functionality

Rams wanted the technique to be not only convenient, but also aesthetically pleasing. In his opinion, functionality should not be reflected in the beauty of the object. In 1960, Rams, as a staff designer for Braun, released the LE1 electrostatic speaker with the lightest diaphragms.

The membranes rendered high quality and clear sound. The speaker became a symbol of innovative solutions that came to Europe in the 1960s.

In 1962, Rams took over Braun’s design department for the next 33 years. At first, there were only young specialists in the department, and they used the recommendations of the teachers of the old school less and less. Rams then concentrated on radio players, projectors, and flashlights.

Braun products became so popular for their design that they appeared in the works of British pop artist Richard Hamilton.

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5. Attention to detail

In parallel with his work at Braun, Rams joined Vistoe (formerly Otto Zapf). The company was engaged in the creation of classic furniture. All products were developed personally by Rams. It is a joint venture between Rams and Niels Witz. The company’s stores are located in London, Los Angeles, New York, Munich.

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The Rams audio system series for Braun Audio 1 is designed to fit on the 606 shelf system.

At the time, it was incredible to have hi-fi with components that could be hung on the wall. There are many things on the market right now that you can mount on the wall, but this one was the first. All elements have been designed to fit into the 606 shelving system.

Dieter Rams

The 606 shelving system is designed to be easily assembled from several removable units in the form of shelves, drawers and cabinets. Each element is made of aluminum and E-track profile. The original version was made of beech, and the doors and drawers were made of white lacquered wood.

6. Environmental friendliness

Project 621 tables are Rams’ attempt to elevate the status of plastic to a noble material. All items were hand-painted.

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7. Minimalism

In 1965, Rams ditched white in technique in favor of pale black. He covered the Studio 1000 system with it on all sides except the lacquered panel. The Braun technique has become more compact due to the darker tones. Rams managed to get rid of the extra screws and fasteners. Instead, he began to use aluminum tape. Regulators Rams did more, as did block switches.

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Over the next 30 years, black began to dominate consumer electronics design. Rams began to use it not only for audio production, but also for the design of watches, calculators and other products. This trend towards prevailing black tones lasted until the 1970s.

8. Aesthetics

One of Rams’ favorite designs is the Model T2 cylindrical black lighter with magnetic ignition technology. As a smoker, Rams liked to experiment with models of lighters, he saw them as “mini-sculptures”.

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9. Honesty with the consumer

“I think good designers should always be avant-garde and always be one step ahead of their time,” said Dieter Rams, speaking to the Braun board in 1980. “They have to question everything that seems obvious. They must have an intuition for changes in human preferences, for their desires, worries, needs and their habits. They must be able to realistically assess their capabilities and the boundaries of technology. “

10. Relevance

For Apple, Rams was the inspiration behind the design of the T3 transistor receiver, the company took as an example when creating the first generation iPod. Rams supported Apple’s technical solutions. Firms that are serious about design can be counted on one hand, he said, and Apple is one of them.

In the documentary Objectified, Rams stated that Apple is the only company that follows Rams’ principles to the fullest.

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“The basic design hasn’t changed since we started in the 1980s,” says Rams. He has inspired many contemporary designers: Sam Hecht, Konstantin Grcic, Jony Ive and others.

For 16 years Dieter Rams taught at the Hamburg Graduate School of Fine Arts and received the title of Honorary Lecturer at the Royal College of Art in London. He was president of the German Council for Shaping.

Now 86 years old Rams, he still comes up with new solutions. When Rams was asked what he would do if he became young again. He replied that he would be looking for new ways of producing alternative energy. According to him, windmills are useful, but they spoil the view.

Source: vc.ru

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