While on the subject of German industrial design, one man deserves a special mention: Dieter Rams. Strongly influenced by the Bauhaus movement, this designer believed good design should be “less, but better”. From 1961–1995, he was the head of design at the consumer products company Braun. He created some of the most groundbreaking everyday domestic products that were both user-friendly and aesthetic: the minimalist ET66 calculator, the SK4 record player, Braun’s Audio1 hi-fi system, the T2 cylinder cigarette lighter, the TG60 tape recorder, the DN50 Visotronic digital alarm clock, and many more. It would be no exaggeration to say this man changed the face of product design forever! Apple’s chief design officer, Jonathan Ives, has acknowledged Rams’ influence on his work. Rams’ T3 pocket radio is said to be the inspiration behind Apple’s iPod!
Beyond the Box
Today, product design in Germany has reached another level altogether. There are lots of exciting experiments going on in the design of contemporary products. Consumers are spoilt for choice! Their shopping list can extend from futuristic kitchens that morph into different shapes at the touch of a button to sleek pens designed along Bauhausian lines, from high-end textile furniture with metal frames to concrete canvas stools. The output is bold, minimalist and forward-looking. Using sustainable materials is increasingly a priority for most German designers and consumers. The idea is to make environmentalism and design work together. Conscious consumerism is cool!