Happy Birthday, Dieter: The Mind of a World-Famous Designer

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A look back at the work of Dieter Rams, who devoted his life to teaching people that design should be unimposing and helpful

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I love the elegant, minimalist yet eloquent visual language of iconic designer Dieter Rams (who doesn't?), whose principles of good design I've previously covered, and I have a soft spot for the lavish design books of German publishing house Gestalten. (Previously: The Story of Eames Furniture and Papercraft 2: Design and Art With Paper.)

Today, as Dieter Rams turns 79, there's no better time to revisit Gestalten's fantastic Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams—an ambitious look at Rams's seminal work at Braun, which established him as one of the most influential designers of the 20th century, shaping both the aesthetic norms of design for decades to come as well as society's most fundamental understanding of what design is, does, and should be. The lush bilingual volume explores the underbelly of Rams's design philosophy in 800 pages of archival photos, original sketches, and models, alongside thoughtful essays by international design experts that examine Rams's work and legacy in a contemporary context.

"Design should not dominate things, should not dominate people. It should help people. That's its role." Dieter Rams

Dieter Rams: Less and More Interview from Gestalten on Vimeo.

"Not the spectacular things are the important things—the unspectacular things are the important things, especially in the future." Dieter Rams

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Don't miss last week's New York Times interview with Rams, in which he talks about everything from what an average day is like for him to why he started a foundation to help young designers get an education—an excellent companion read to Less and More.


This post also appears on Brain Pickings.
Images: Die Gestalten Verlag

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Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings. She writes for Wired UK and GOOD, and is an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow.

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