dieter rams tests "good design" against 10 basic measures. According to him, it should be innovative and useful, aesthetic and honest, unobtrusive and long-lasting; it must make a product understandable, be thorough down to the last detail, and it must be concerned with the environment. Finally: "Good design should be as little design as possible." During the course of his career, which spans more than 50 years, Dieter Rams has successfully acted out these key principles again and again, pioneering some of the most successful and enduring products of the 20th century.
As director of design at the renowned electrical company Braun from 1961 to 1995, Rams – who is now 78 – was responsible for creating more than 500 products, from coffee-makers and electric shavers to radios and calculators, which have stood the test of time. A man of ideas and practical skill, he studied architecture and trained as a carpenter in his native Germany before making his name as a creative pioneer. Since the 1960s, he has also lent his unique approach to the Danish brand Vitsoe, creating elegant and functional furniture. It is little wonder he has become one of the most respected figures of modern industrial design.
In the current climate of nostalgia and national austerity, Rams' commitment to durability has never seemed more relevant. Which is perhaps why we are currently witnessing a Rams revival with a number of coffee-table books being released this year in his honour, as well as a retrospective of his work showing at London's Design Museum until 9 March. For now at least, it seems the appeal of cheap, disposable style is a thing of the past.