Not many (if any) designers can lay claim to a body of work so far reaching that it has touched the lives of even those who have absolutely no idea who they are, let alone influenced virtually every contemporary designer in practice today. Yet, Dieter Rams is such. A must for followers of the designer, Sophie Lovell's new tome not only covers Rams' entire career and philosophy, it dives into the context with which his work has come to be a blueprint for sustainability and longevity in design.
While many of the books about Dieter Rams are predominantly dry catalogues, Lovell's book examines the relevance of his work from a contemporary design standpoint by featuring interviews with some of today's top industrial designers, such as Naoto Fukasawa, Sam Hecht and Jasper Morrison, reflecting on his influence. 'A lot of people are re-examining (and redefining) the role and responsibilities of design and designers today,' says Lovell. 'I hope that by providing an in depth picture of Rams, his work and its context, this book may prove helpful towards the debate.'
Keen that the book dispels some long-running myths, Lovell reinforces Rams' reluctance to be seen as a superstar design god. 'He would be the first to say that his initial path had a lot to do with lucky coincidence,' she says. Touching on Rams' collaboration with his team at Braun as essential for the sheer volume of the company's output, Lovell cites other rarely mentioned design greats involved with the Braun phenomenon, including 'Gerd A. Mueller, Reinhold Weiss and Dietrich Lubs for example, or the brilliant Hans Gugelot from Ulm. Not to mention the brave vision of the Braun brothers'.
The most important consideration for Lovell was, quite understandably, trying not to lose track of the hundreds of products Rams designed and co-designed - a daunting task made pleasurable and 'enriching' by time spent with both Rams and his organiser and advisor Britte Siepenkothen.
A foreword by Jonathan Ive hones in on just how far the Rams effect is felt. Ive's account of his childhood encounter with a Braun MPZ 2 Citromatic and its 'bold, pure, perfectly-proportioned, coherent and effortless' surface goes a long way to illustrate the influence Rams has had on some of the most successful products of the last 20 years. Lovell draws a parallel between the designers: 'They do both have a very similar attitude and drive towards the simplicity of perfection in their work.'