TG 60 Tonbandgerät für Braun

Dieter Rams

furniture and product designer, born 1932, lives in Kronberg / Hesse


Whenever the topic of German design in the latter half of the 20th century comes up anywhere in the world, his name isbound to be mentioned sooner or later. Dieter Rams’ career began in the mid-1950s when, at only 23, he was hired by Braun, whose revolutionary design concept he had a share in shaping, alongside Hans Gugelot, Herbert Hirche and others. He was director of the design department for over three decades, starting in 1961. Design principles that came directly from the Ulm school, and indirectly by way of the Bauhaus, were incorporated in the new product generation, demonstrated for example by the dominance of the cube. The replacement of the radio with the modular stereo system – realized for the first timein the model studio 2 – in connection with a radically strippeddown exterior that can be traced largely to Otl Aicher, gave Braun devices the status of archetypes that would set the trend in this field for decades to come. The penetration of undisguisedtechnology into the domestic realm alone was a premiere. The carefully arranged, colour- coordinated control buttons and knobs on the fronts of the hi-fi amplifiers Rams designed became telling icons and status symbols. He also supplied the furniture to go with these devices, as did Gugelot and Hirche. A working relationship with the Zapf / Vitsoe (later Vitsoe) company, which specialized in modern assembled furniture, gave rise to designs such as the RZ 60 wall shelf. This was the forerunner of model 606, a classic among modular furn i t u re systems (today made by sdr+). Grids and the additive principle were applied to a diverse range of furn i t u re types, whether small pieces like the 740 stacking stools and 010 nesting tables or more elaborate systems like the 980 container program (with Thomas Merkel). Rams’ RZ 62 easychair is likewise based on a cleverly conceived system. All elements including the sides and backrests are easy to remove and can thus be replaced as necessary. There followed chairs, easychairs, tables, coat racks and shelves onwheels, which, like the Braun appliances, always maintain a neutral look. Dieter Rams is the very incarnation of late functionalism in his straight-lined version of the trend, often viewed as typically German. This is just the style against which the next generation would rebel. He himself sees in the level of discipline he demands of design a legitimate means for fighting increasing wastefulness and premature aesthetic obsolescence.