Icon: Dieter Rams
The functionalist master’s “less is better” ethos endures in Ive
The godfather of tech minimalism
as part of our RETRO - TECH SERIES OF DESIGNERS whose bold lines and even bolder ideas still define the gadgets we buy today, we take time to honour the Godfather of tech minimalism and former head of design at Braun, Dieter Rams.
After joining the German firm’s design team at just 23, Rams went to work stripping back tech’s aesthetic. Taking influence from the simplicity of the Bauhaus movement, he made TVs, record players, speakers and even hairdryers brutal but beautiful.
Having turned 82 this year, his “ten principles for good design” are commandments that still continue to shape modern tech, while Apple’s Sir Jony Ive is clearly a dedicated disciple…
Braun LE1 Speaker 1959
one of the first electrostatic loudspeakers in the world, this is cutting-edge tech wrapped in incredibly simple design. does the square box on a tilting base remind you of anything? Yep, it’s a clear design influence for the imac.
Braun SK4 1956
the first record player to ditch the wooden cabinet and keep the spinning record and workings not just protected but visible, with a plastic lid. co-designed with hans gugelot, it’s a true design classic.
Braun HLD 4 1970
rams takes a departure from his industrial aesthetic here, adding a behar-esque pop of colour to an unlikely hair dryer that’s a lesson in formalism with zero functional frivolities. echoes of this ethos can be found again in apple, from the simple, bright ipods to the more recent iphone 5c.
Braun TP1 Portable Turntable 1959
a step on from the sk4 record player, this sci-fi-looking gizmo was the first portable record player – a precursor to the walkman, discman and eventually the ipod. somewhat Unconventionally, it played from the underside and rocked seven-inch records.
Braun ET 44 1987
this calculator is a school days fave thanks to its sturdy construction, near-endless battery life and simplicity of design. something seem familiar here as well? the smartie-like button layout was used as the basis for Apple’s calculator app right up until the ios 7 redesign.