Dieter Rams is one of the most influential product designers of the twentieth century. Even if you don’t immediately recognize his name, you have almost certainly used one of the radios, clocks, lighters, juicers, shelves or hundreds of other products he designed.
He is famous not only for this vast array of well-formed products, but for his remarkably prescient ideas about the correct function of design in the messy, out-of-control world we inhabit today.
These ideas are summed up in his ‘ten principles’ of good design: Good design is innovative, useful, and aesthetic. Good design should be make a product easily understood. Good design is unobtrusive, honest, durable, thorough, and concerned with the environment. Most of all, good design is as little design as possible.
Photographer Florian Böhm was invited to document the archive and Rams' house, providing a previously unseen look at the world of Dieter Rams.
Dieter Rams, Braun promotional material and image of the 606 shelving programme and prototypes for handles in the workshop, Rams House, Kronberg, Frankfurt, Germany
'It was exciting to browse through the densely preserved collection of Braun design history - which is mostly Dieter Rams',' enthuses Böhm. 'Larger objects in the archive stood out, corridors of TVs for example, but a lot of the archived products were concealed in boxes or in shelves, and often in closed storage units. Only a small amount was easily accessible with the camera, more or less by chance, when openly placed, in transition from one place to another or more visibly wrapped in clear plastic.'
PC 3 record player with spare parts for other hi-fi systems and face plate for hi-fi unit, Braun Archive, Kronberg, Frankfurt, Germany
Böhm continues: 'My interest was the condition of the archive, the site itself and the kind of mutated nature these objects seem to have developed within the archive arrangements and their new purpose in this context. I am fascinated with the reality of a physical archive and the analog logistics involved - the labelling, shelving, lighting, protection and accessibility. The preserved objects remain unused and seem to convert to pure information, as carriers of cultural identity.'
Dieter Rams seated in chair from 620 chair programme and with TG 550 reel-to-reel tape recorder, Rams House, Kronberg, Frankfurt, Germany
Rams' house - his only piece of architecture - is remarkable for the detail and the design principles applied to it. 'One idea was to follow Rams through the house while he was telling personal anecdotes about objects that are meaningful to him,' Böhm explains of his approach to photographing the house. 'A zoom into the higher resolution of the space, a macro view on the personal arrangement of things, beyond the ridged functional first impression of the space, for example, the workshop in the basement of his house, is full of interesting objects and traces of Rams.'
Dieter Rams, a prototype for a chair and and SK 4 record player, Rams House, Kronberg, Frankfurt, Germany
Book for sale on Amazon: Dieter Rams: As Little Design as Possible
By Sophie Lovell and Klaus Kemp - Foreword by Jonathan Ive
Edited by Phaidon Press