Dieter Rams: The Complete Works is the gift to rewire their love of design
Our ultimate reference book on one of the most influential product designers of all time is one of our better books for a better year ahead. Give someone you love a copy!
2020 has been the year in which many of us came to resent the gadgets we once loved. Instead of productive meetings and friendly chats, transcendent live performances and we’ve had to contend with glitchy Zoom calls, patchy internet outages and a life lived via that ever-present screen.
That’s set to change next year, with any luck, and we can return to loving the wonderfully useful, beautifully designed stuff around us. If you know a design buff you might benefit from a little help recalibrating their appreciation of the man made world, you should really buy them a copy of Dieter Rams: The Complete Works.
This authoritative new title details every product created by this seminal German designer, best known for his work at Braun, whose influence is still felt around the globe, in today’s games consoles, speakers, phones and other devices.
Rams’ maxim, “good design is as little design as possible” has been quoted and followed by new generations of designers and design enthusiasts, and his practical, simple works and working practices can still help us all get a handle on the material world.
From radio receivers to electric razors, clocks to chairs, record players to shelving systems, Rams work for Braun, as well as his output for the furniture manufacturer Vitsoe, prove that an incredibly wide variety of consumer durables can be made to look simple and beautiful, so long as they’re overseen by a true product master.
Dieter Rams: The Complete Works is equally user friendly. Its text is written by the German design curator and professor of design history Klaus Klemp, who, in clear, crisp prose, guides readers though turn of events and design considerations that led the creation of classic after classic.
The book also includes an introduction from Rams himself, which draws his career into focus, and helps us come to terms with the world of contemporary products. “Some years ago, I set a series of questions regarding the design of industrial products,” he writes. “We should ask ourselves, for example, whether the product we are designing is really necessary, or if something already exists that does the job well enough, if not better. Does it really help to enrich our lives or does it only appeal to ideas of status? Is it repairable? Is it durable? Easy to use and flexible in its use? Can I master it easily or does the new product dominate me?
“That last question is one I find particularly relevant today,” Rams goes on. “The primary insight I have gained in my sixty years as a designer, and through my experiences with both companies and end users, is a simple one: ‘Less, but better.’ We should surround ourselves with fewer things, but better things. This is not a constraint, it is an advantage, which allows us more space for real life."
As design lovers return to ‘real life’ in 2021, they might want to include this book among their few, better things. To find out more about Dieter Rams: The Complete Works and to order a copy for your loved ones, go here, and let’s look forward to a pleasantly productive New Year.