Gary Hustwit has been kind enough to share his movies during this particular context we live in, and I had the opportunity to watch Rams a third time due to a profound respect for Dieter Rams and his legacy in a design culture –the European and Swiss in particular– I grew up in. Perhaps why I call him Dieter, a daring approximation to the familiar.
The picture’s cordiality and beauty shall not hide some proclaims that tend to get lost within the visual flare of the moving images and why not, the designer’s semblance. I can relate to these proclaims and are worth commemorating by their own, so here are a few quotes and notes extracted and abstracted from the film.
You cannot understand good design, if you do not understand people.
You have to find the right people. People who could actually achieve something through collaboration, who think beyond what they are responsible for on a daily basis. Who think What will our society look like in the future?
It honestly worries me that people are no longer looking each other in the eye. They are staring at their tablets and walking across the street like that. It is significant, how humanity has changed. Technology is changing faster all the time. Think of all the computers. If you get a computer today, it’s already obsolete tomorrow. Today, no industry is interested in repairing things. This is also a phenomenon –it’s better to just buy a new one. We have to get away from the un-culture of abundance. Because there is no future with so many redundant things. Less but better is not just a design concept, it’s also about our behavior.
He wasn’t interested in the museum value, he wanted to make good everyday products. Because they are still valid today. It’s important for people to start learning that good design doesn’t just happen. That it’s rather an outgrowth of our education. And that’s often a long evolution, these objects continue to develop from design to design.
You don’t have to like everything.
He is from that generation where designers dared to say this is bad design. Today we often hear this is interesting and never know what does that mean. We are entering a time when this question is it good or not good? is maybe becoming more important again. We can’t afford to be so indifferent.
I’m all in favor of experiments, but these are pretty useless. I can’t deal with things like this – confusion. I like orderly confusion very much. But this is neither orderly nor properly confused. I find things like this unnecessary. We don’t need them. We should forego them because we need the resources for better things.
I think that all this digitization is becoming more and more a part of our life. I think it diminishes our ability to experience things. There are pictures that disappear, one after the other, without leaving traces up here. This goes insanely fast. And maybe that’s why we can, or we want to, consume so much.
The world that can be perceived through the senses exudes an aura that I believe cannot be digitized.
I think Dieter’s legacy is simply the work from those 50 years. This legacy is two things: one legacy is the products, the variety, the strict adherence to his principles. That will carry on through the products, exhibitions and so on. And the other legacy is what he passed on to his colleagues and others, to take with them: the philosophy, the dedication towards the environment, and trying to get young designers to create really good design.
Design only works when it really seeks to achieve something for humanity.
How important is design today in terms of shaping a global future? True innovation and exceptional achievements are becoming more rare. It seems to me that the term design is mushrooming. Design has become a synonym for a backdrop, for beautiful appearance, for the stylish, and I fear we could lose our orientation at a point in time when orientation is needed as never before.
Additionally, this is Dieter’s speech from 1976 that explained his position on Design for Vitsoe, the furniture company he designed for, during and after his long period at Braun.