02 Bow down to Dieter Rams
Gary Hustwit is a New York documentary maker with good taste in both music and design. In the former camp are his films on the bands Wilco and Animal Collective and the singer Mavis Staples. In the latter are projects like Workplace, his 2016 documentary about the future of the office, commissioned for the Venice Biennale of Architecture. One of Hustwit’s best-known is 2007’s Helvetica, the story of the enduring Swiss typeface used by Evian, Muji and a million other brands. And now we have Rams, a new documentary on Dieter Rams.
The most famous product designer of our times, via his iconic work at Braun and Vitsoe, Rams’ clean, curved, white coffeemaker, stereo, calculator and alarm clocks are deathless design classics. Rams, which features a new Brian Eno soundtrack, is remarkable for a couple of things. First, that the retired and reclusive 86-year-old agreed to talk at all; and second, for the biopic’s often sober tone. Rams designed his products to endure. For a minimalist, then, it’s perhaps fitting that he rails against our current culture of overconsumption. “If I had to do it over again I would not be a designer,” the thoughtful German laments. “There are too many unnecessary products in the world.” Rams is out this month
Right: design classics by Dieter Rams include the Braun Phase 1 alarm clock and Braun HLD 4 hairdryer
Left: Dieter Rams during his time as design director of Braun, pictured in his office in Frankfurt, Germany, 1979