RAMS: A Documentary About Dieter Rams

Dieter Rams began his studies in architecture and interior decoration at Wiesbaden School of Art in 1947. A year later, in 1948, he took a break from studying to gain practical experience and finish his carpentry apprenticeship. He returned to Wiesbaden School of Art in 1948 and graduated with honours in 1953 after which he began working for Frankfurt-based architect Otto Apel. In 1955, he was recruited to Braun as an architect and an interior designer. In 1961, he became the Chief Design Officer at Braun, a position he retained until 1995.

Dieter Rams was strongly influenced by the presence of his grandfather, a carpenter. Rams once explained his design approach in the phrase “Weniger, aber besser” which translates as “Less, but better”. Rams and his staff designed many memorable products for Braun including the famous SK-4 record player and the high-quality ‘D’-series (D45, D46) of 35 mm film slide projectors. He is also known for designing a furniture collection for Vitsœ in the 1960s including the 606 Universal Shelving System and 620 Chair Programme.

Dieter Rams Work

By producing electronic gadgets that were remarkable in their austere aesthetic and user friendliness, Rams made Braun a household name in the 1950s.

In 2010, to mark his contribution to the world of design, he was awarded the ‘Kölner Klopfer’ prize by the students of the Cologne International School of Design and in 2009 awarded the great design prize in Australia. In addition, as successor to the Bauhaus, Rams eventually became a protégé of the Ulm School of Design in Ulm, Germany.

I’m the director of the documentaries Helvetica, Objectified, and Urbanized. I’ve had the pleasure of having conversations with some of the most creative designers in the world for these films.

In 2008, I had the honor of interviewing Dieter Rams for my documentary Objectified, but I was only able to share a small piece of his story. Dieter, who is now 84, is a very private person; however, I have been granted unprecedented and exclusive access to Dieter for the first feature-length documentary about his life and work.

The documentary is simply titled Rams.

“Good design is making something intelligible and memorable. Great design is making something memorable and meaningful.”Dieter Rams

We’ve recently filmed Dieter for several weeks in his home and studio, but we still have a ton of filming left to go, which is why we are turning to Kickstarter.

The documentary will include in-depth conversations with Dieter, and detail the process behind some of his most iconic designs. We want to get past the legend of Dieter, and get into his philosophy, process, inspirations, and even his regrets.

This Kickstarter campaign will not only support the making of this documentary but also help efforts to preserve his design archive––a majority of which the public has never seen.

Rams’ Influence

For over fifty years Dieter has left an indelible mark on the field of product design and the world at large with his iconic work at Braun and Vitsoe.

The objects Dieter has designed have touched the lives of millions of people––so many of us have had a Braun coffeemaker, shaver, stereo, calculator, speakers, or alarm clock. Or an Oral-B toothbrush. Or a Vitsoe 606 shelving system. Or any of the hundreds of other products Dieter has designed or overseen the design of.

Written by

Jack Harris is a developer, photographer, speaker, author of a couple of books about JavaScript and the founder of photo magazine Camera.

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