Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

Making Dieter Rams

I reviewed Sophie Lovell’s new monograph, Dieter Rams: As Little As Possible (Phaidon) for The Architect’s Newspaper. For a Rams fan like me, this book is the ultimate, with every product put in a timeline and lovingly photographed. New photography by Florian Bohm even documents the archives (slideshow here), an indication of the project’s high fetishism. As I write in AN:

Open Dieter Rams: As Little Design as Possible. Turn to page 64. There you will find the Braun product line circa 1963. I would buy any one of those products today, save the cameras, were they sold in stores. Which is to say, you will get no argument from me about Rams’ greatness as an industrial designer and the superiority of his achievement as head of Braun’s product design department from 1961 to 1995, where he designed or co-designed 500 products, lighters, door handles, coffee grinders, hi-fis and televisions, hair dryers, and cameras. Plus those Vitsoe 606 shelves, still great, still in production.
But for a design historian, I found the book wanting in perspective and interpretation. It adds a great deal to our understanding of the team that made Rams’s long career at Braun possible, giving credit to the Braun brothers for embracing architectural modernism before they hired Rams, and identifying which famous products were in fact designed by members of his in-house design group. It goes in depth on the process and tactile moves made on a number of key products. But it never defines the Braun style in any deeper way.