Art Center will award legendary designer Dieter Rams an Honorary Doctorate Degree on Sat., April 20 at 4pm at its Spring Term 2013 Graduation. The event is free and open to the public. As chief of design at Braun from 1961 until retiring in 1997, Rams was responsible for innovative design in radios, watches, record players, coffee makers, shavers and other objects that continue to influence functionality and aesthetic in today’s products.
Generations of designers have been inspired by Rams’ work. Apple design chief Jonathan Ive said Apple products could be seen as homage to Rams, who created “surfaces that were without apology, bold, pure, perfectly proportioned, coherent and effortless.”
Art Center student Andrew Kim, who is graduating this year and has been hired to work at Microsoft, said in an article about Art Center and Rams in the March/April issue of Pasadena Magazine that “every child needs a superhero to look up to, and he has been mine.”
In 1980 Rams asked himself: “Is my design good design?” His famous list of “10 principles for good design” values design that is simple, harmonious and timeless. On his tenth principle, Rams said, “Good design is as little design as possible: less, but better, because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials.”
Dieter Rams 10 Principles for Good Design
1. Good design is innovative
2. Good design makes a product useful
3. Good design is aesthetic
4. Good design makes a product understandable
5. Good design is unobtrusive
6. Good design is honest
7. Good design is long lasting
8. Good design is thorough down to the last detail
9. Good design is environmentally friendly
10. Good design is as little design as possible
Born in Wiesbaden, Germany in 1932, Rams was strongly influenced by his grandfather, a master carpenter. In 1955 Rams was recruited by Braun and asked to modernize the company’s interiors, but quickly become involved with Braun’s product designs. Still in his twenties, he was appointed to head of the design department in 1961, and seven years later promoted to director of the department.
Rams and his design team were responsible for iconic devices such as the AB1 Alarm Clock, the ET22 Calculator, and T41 Radio. He also worked on side projects with Vitsœ (then Vitsœ+Zapf), a company formed to manufacture Rams’ furniture designs and that to this day continues to produce his acclaimed 606 Universal Shelving System from 1960. Rams earned numerous awards throughout his distinguished career, including the Commanders Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and the World Design Medal from the Industrial Designers Society of America. His work has been displayed in museums worldwide, most recently in the travelling Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams exhibition, and several of his designs are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
“Dieter Rams, Designer: Cold War Modern,” a video from the Victoria and Albert Museum: