dieter rams interview
dieter rams interview dieter rams interview
oct 30, 2000
dieter rams interview

dieter rams
© designboom



we met dieter rams at his studio (in his home) in kronberg on october 20, 2000.



what is the best moment of the day?
I am more active in the evening, I can work until 1am.



what kind of music do you listen to at the moment?
classical music



hairdryer for braun
braun design department, dieter rams



do you listen to the radio?



what books do you have on your bedside table?
you can go look, there are several.



universal shelving system 606
in steel for sdr+,
in alluminium for de padova



do you read design magazines?



where do you get news from?
when I worked for ‘braun’ I didn’t have time for anything, even for reading newspapers,
but now I read them every morning.



‘chair program 601′ , 1960 for vitsoe
(out of production)



do you notice how women are dressing? do you have any preferences?
yes, I look at them carefully, 1950-51 when I studied architecture there was also
a class on fashion, I loved going to see their designs, …yes now I like jil sander’s work.



what kind of clothes do you avoid wearing?
anything uncomfortable, itchy, I can’t stand feeling itchy..



seater 620, for sdr+ (orig. vitsoe 1960-62)



do you have any pets?
yes, my wife and I had a cat until 2 years ago. she was 16 when she died, her name
was ‘francisca’, after that we never got another cat, we were too fond of her.



where do you work on your designs and projects?
here, where I am sitting now, in my studio in my house.
who would you like to design something for?
meeting erwin braun was very lucky for me, and nils vitsoe also.
in germany there aren’t many charismatic entrepreneurs, perhaps there are more in italy,
for example people like adriano olivetti, but even there today they are rare.



doorknobs, 1986 -89 for fsb



you created the ‘braun style’ which has become famous throughout the world…
first of all I didn’t do anything by myself, the entrepreneur’s personality, and all of
others involved in the development, the connections with university were
certainly important. I was lucky that I began at the right moment and that
I stopped also at the right moment.
when the design and product research division was created at braun it was 1956,
I was able to build a team with other young designers, there were at least 16 of us.



form follows function?
yes, form has to come after function, I can’t conceive of it in any other way.
there are certainly psychological functions as well, it is a matter of balancing the esthetic
content with regard to use.



table-lamp, for tecnolumen, bremen
dieter rams, andreas hackbarth



do you think that design is an autonomous cultural expression?
the term ‘design’ is certainly used too much, even barbers call themselves “designers”!
but if we mean the latin word “designare” or the english term “design”, in england
where engineers call themselves ‘designers’,… yes, I think that it is a culture,
underestimated, but autonomous.
in italy the majority of designers are architects like me, in my day there was no specific
training, I recall we had a class called ‘space and tools’. (laughs)



when you are working, do you discuss or exchange ideas with your colleagues?
yes, with my ex-colleagues (at braun) I still have good relationships and as well
with some italian designers.



‘control ET ‘, calcolator, 1978 for braun
braun design department,
dieter rams, dietrich lubs



describe your style, like a good friend of yours would describe it.
in japanese they say: wabi sabi. together these two concepts mean
‘tranquility, simplicity, balance’, but also ‘liveliness’. this is a point of reference for me…
I have always been interested in mixing materials, in my earliest furniture designs
I mixed wood with plastic or aluminum.



which of your projects has given you the most satisfaction?
newspapers and ‘design critics’ always cite the ‘schneewittchensarg’,
the phono/radio ‘phonosuper SK4′ for braun in 1956. it was the first to have a perspex
cover, which then became a production standard…
but my favorites are the small objects, the ones that became the first ‘walkman’…
the portable phono/radio combination ‘TP 1′ in ’59, for braun.



‘TP 1′, portable phono/radio, 1959 for braun
braun design department, dieter rams



what did you want to be when you were a child?
my grandfather was a carpenter, I went to visit him often and I watched how he
‘produced’ his forms which were always very linked to his technique (by hand),
they were simple, but very beautiful, that is what I wanted to do, I didn’t know about
being a designer, but I knew I wanted to make things.



is there any architect or designer from past you appreciate a lot?
charles and ray eames, george nelson.
I never knew eames personally, but I did know nelson… I loved it when he talked about design…
I will never forget what he said about ettore sottsass, when he wanted to do something
else, when he was tired of marketing (as we all were)…’memphis’ was above all a
poetic/pictoral thought, he wasn’t interested whether these objects really went into
production, george said: ‘now our good friend ettore is becoming a guru.’



‘phonosuper’, 1956 for braun
hans gugelmot, dieter rams



and among those still working?
maybe jasper morrison



on the news broadcast they said that italians are afraid of unemployment, criminality
and pollution. what are you afraid of regarding the future?
I fear violence, fanaticism.
I can’t stand any ‘isms’– nationalism, functionalism.
there is no functionalism, just functions.



comments policy
login with designboom
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

dieter rams (8 articles)