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Happy Birthday Dieter Rams: Still Going Strong

Turning 85 years old (on 20th May 2017), it is a pleasure to wish Dieter Rams a very happy birthday.

The Designer’s Designer

Dieter Rams, the distinguished German industrial designer, has enjoyed an illustrious career and is still going strong. Rams has steered a steady course through an often turbulent design world, creating intelligent designs with the purposeful stride of a great innovator. Working exclusively with two companies—Braun and Vitsœ—Rams developed a prolific body of work, and has amassed a dedicated following. His ‘Ten Principles for Good Design‘ outline a thoughtful approach to design; appropriately, they have shaped the thinking of many creative minds throughout the years. Dieter Rams is a designer’s designer: once influenced by the Bauhaus and Ulm School of Design, Rams, in turn, has influenced many of today’s industrial designers. Names include Naoto Fukasawa, Jasper Morrison, Konstantin Grcic, and most famously, Jonathan Ive. (1)

A classic Dieter Rams.
Filmmaker Gary Hustwit—director of Helvetica, Objectified and Urbanized—is making a feature-length documentary on the life and work of Dieter Rams, due for release in late 2017. Photo © Gary Hustwit.

Still Going Strong

Honouring the 85th birthday of Dieter Rams, Vitsœ is showcasing a rather special collection of Braun products—’The Strong Collection’. Rams worked with Braun for forty years and was Head of the company’s Design Department from 1961, personally designing products, as well as overseeing and guiding product design. The astonishing ‘Strong Collection’—of over 250 Braun items—was generously donated by a Vitsœ customer, Tom Strong. A passionate collector from his early childhood, Strong was smitten with Rams’s designs for Braun: ‘I began to collect these [Braun] items because I enjoyed using them and I was fascinated by the progression in design that I was seeing,’ Strong explained to Vitsœ. ‘Rams’s designs made the products understandable and self-educational. He made things that were easy to grasp, to get to know and to handle roughly without breaking.’ (2) Tom Strong’s significant donation to Vitsœ will ensure that many people can witness the profound nature of Ram’s designs for years to come. His donation was made on the condition that the collection would remain on display, not secreted away.

Items from ‘The Strong Collection’.
Items from ‘The Strong Collection’.
Items from ‘The Strong Collection’.
Items from ‘The Strong Collection’.
Braun T 1000 (right).
Braun SK 61 phonosuper.
Braun SM 3 sixtant.
Braun BL 12 ladyshave.
Braun ABR 21.
Braun KF 21 Aromaster (White) and KF 20 (Olive). The main difference between these two models can be observed in the handle design.
Braun packaging.

Items from ‘The Strong Collection’ are on display at Vitsœ’s New York shop until 24th May 2017 (coinciding with Dieter Ram’s birthday and the International Contemporary Furniture Fair—ICFF). Ram’s 606 Universal Shelving System, designed in 1960 and made by Vitsœ ever since, is fittingly displaying the collection. ‘The Strong Collection’ will then move to its permanent home at Vitsœ’s newly built HQ in Royal Leamington Spa, England (opening later in 2017).

All photos © Vitsœ (with the exception of the Gary Hustwit portrait of Dieter Rams).

References

(1) Keiko Ueki-Polet and Klaus Klemp. (ed.) (July 2015) Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams. Gestalten.

(2) Vitsoe.com. (2017). The Strong collection. [online] Available at: https://www.vitsoe.com/gb/voice/strong [Accessed 18 May 2017].

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