Rams (2018) - full transcript

It is a documentary portrait of Dieter Rams, one of the most influential designers alive, and a rumination on consumerism, sustainability, and the future of design.

What is good design?

Product design is the total configuration
of a product:

its form, color, material and construction.

You cannot understand good design

if you do not understand people.

For design to be understood by everyone

it should be as simple as possible.

The time of thoughtless design for
thoughtless consumption is over.

We must, with increasing soberness, and hopefully

with growing alertness and rationalism, take notice.

A warm welcome to you all, and a good evening.

Dieter Rams has summarized his philosophy of
"Less, but better" into 10 principles on design,

which have shaped generations of designers
nationally and internationally.

British designer Jonathan Ive, responsible
for all Apple products,

calls Dieter Rams his role model and inspiration.

From 1961 to 1995, Dieter Rams headed
the design department of Braun.

I would like to welcome to the stage
Mr. Dieter Rams as our first guest,

and my colleague, Fritz Frenkler from
the Technical University of Munich.

You may now ask Dieter Rams questions
that are of great concern to you.

Good evening.

I would like to know what is needed so that I,
as an industrial designer,

can overcome mediocrity?

You mean your own mediocrity or in general?

Among other things.

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?"

Given that you designed larger products,
all the way up to furniture,

why didn't you ever get involved
in the auto industry

to bring about order and good design?

Because the whole auto industry
irritated me from the beginning.

They do too much, and too much
that is unnecessary.

They always wanted something even faster,

and I didn't regard that as appropriate
at that point in time.

We don't need anything faster.

We need something more sensible and better.

What about Tesla, for example, who are
trying to do something very different?

Personally, I'm not so impressed
with the technology as such.

We need to rethink the entire transportation system,

and not just from the standpoint of energy,

but rather thinking about what kind
of transportation we need.

What will traffic look like in 50 years?

These are challenges for the automotive industry.

You said to us last year

that if you had another chance to study
design in a more comprehensive way,

you would get more involved with landscape
architecture. Why would you do that?

It seems to me that shaping our environment
is the most important thing.

How the city looks, what's happening
with urban development,

because traffic is getting out of control.

And this starts with the landscape,
not with the design of a machine.

Because design, even in the media, is increasingly
associated with beautification,

I hate the term beautification. We never just
wanted to make something beautiful.

We wanted to make things better,
as I have always wanted.

What we need is: less, but better.

Thank you.

Dieter started designing in the early 50s.

It was after the war, after enormous upheaval.

It was also a time of great precariousness, in a way.

And a great change, and people wanting change.
And change happening technologically.

I'm trying to think, "Why is he so interesting
for people now?"

And I think maybe there is also a kind of precarious phase
that we're going through.

Also of great technological change,
also of great social change.

Dieter met Ingeborg when he was at Braun. She was a photographer
working in the photography department.

They're a very private couple. They're not out in the limelight,
they're not out together at the big red carpet do's.

They've been together for over 50 years, the two of them.
It's quite lovely, actually.

He keeps himself in a very tranquil bubble.

I mean, he's lived in the same house
for almost... 50 years?

You know, he hasn't moved.

You know, he gives talks, he gives lectures,
he travels, there's shows about his work.

He talks to people, he's very generous
with his time.

But he doesn't have hobbies.

His work is his life, his life's his work. And he's not
really interested in anything else.

I was a child of the war.

I was 13 years old when the bombing stopped.

I was living with my grandparents in Wiesbaden.

My parents were in the process of splitting up.

And then I was very happy that in early March,

the war ended for us in Wiesbaden
because the Americans marched in.

And they turned out to be very friendly
people, right? It was still...

still wartime, but suddenly the air raids were over.

It felt like salvation, or a new beginning.

My grandfather was a master carpenter and
his workshop was my place of refuge.

He hated machines.

He was a specialist on surfaces, and I learned
hand-polishing from him.

The most amazing thing to me as a child
was that his thumb was his tool.

There is a beautiful street in Wiesbaden, the Mauergasse.

It's a small street that has become
a bit touristy since then.

My house looks the same as it did then.

Wiesbaden has a lot of green space
and was often compared to Paris

because it had so many public squares.

The funicular railway is in a beautiful green area,

and from there you went up to Neroberg Park.

The funicular fascinated me even as a child, because
the drive technology was incredible.

One railcar was filled with water from tanks at the top,

and this hauled up the lower railcar.

At the bottom, the water emptied into a little pond.

The water was then pumped back up.

At the time, people didn't understand that this
was economical and ecologically friendly.

I would have been 4 or 5 years old then,
but the Neroberg train stayed with me.

I managed, at the very young age of 17,

to enroll in the technical arts college.

It was a mini Bauhaus.

You learned to do wood joinery, and everything
was very hands on.

The whole thing was like one big family.

Everything had to be made from scratch,
and above all

we had to clear up the mess, in the
truest sense of the word.

Something that's not actually talked about much
is that design is also politics.

Although they didn't really talk about it in that way,

him and his fellow students were very passionate about
creating a world that was a better place.

And much more democratic.

You know, they'd just come out of the shadow
of this terrible time in history,

and there was a lot of talk about design
to give people freedom.

Most of my colleagues somehow ended up
in the interior design trade.

But I only had one thought: architecture.

I wanted nothing to do with interior design, so I
made the rounds in Frankfurt,

which was the hub of the architectural world.

I got writer's cramp from applying - No replies.

Then I ended up talking to old man Apel,
who had a lot going on.

He looked through my portfolio -
"When can you start?" That was it.

It was one of the biggest architecture firms.

For instance, they designed the new theater.

Apel and Skidmore built the American consulates
in Frankfurt and Bremen.

The building on Berliner Street is still standing.

I made the design for the entrance.

I was just happy that I had this job and
that things had come together,

primarily because of the head architects
who were there.

Then I had a young colleague who suddenly said,

"There's an ad in the paper, for a company
called Braun."

I said, "What's this company Braun?
What is that?"

Braun was not well-known at that time.

"They're looking for architects, let's apply there."

"Let's see who gets a response."
And I got one.

So I lost a bottle of wine, or whatever we'd bet.

The Braun Brothers, Artur and Erwin,
asked me if I wanted to do a trial project.

Reconstruction was moving relatively fast

on Rüsselsheimer Street, where their
main offices were.

And I was asked to do the design for this addition.

Of course I was delighted to do it.

As a young man, it was exciting to do
something like this for the first time.

I even got paid for it.

I used the money to buy my first car.
I sold my Vespa.

I bought a used Fiat Topolino.

It was clear they wanted me,

as they showed me the first drafts of
Hans Gugelot's 1954 radio designs.

They just showed me the prototypes,
but I was already hooked...

My career as an architect was forgotten.

Erwin said everything would have to be made better,
which meant more modern.

There was huge change going on.
It was about rebuilding Germany,

it was about rethinking who people were,
what they were, how they were living.

I think that's very much where he got this sort of
much more social attitude to design.

And a lot of that thinking came from Ulm.

Ulm School was set up after the war in the '50s.

The follower from Bauhaus.

Even more kind of restrained and puritan in a way.

So functional, so reduced.

The Braun Brothers connected with the
Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm.

They were exploring the possibilities through electrical objects
in the home. Electrical appliances in the home.

And Rams came into that world bringing his experience into this
new way in which electronic objects were changing.

The designers from Ulm that he worked with originally at Braun

were very into this modular feeling,
these clean lines, this taking away.

Dieter picked it up very quickly and then
made it his own very quickly as well.

The SK 4 was a turning point in design.

And it was especially a turning point for Braun.

Radios were a kind of furniture at this time

and Braun's designers wanted to
get away from the furniture.

The first SK 4 sketches were made by Dieter

with a wooden case, with a record player on the top
and a radio on the top.

But this really didn't work.

So they asked Gugelot if he can find a solution.

He was one of the very important designers
of the mid-century,

so he had a good relationship to Erwin and Artur.

And Gugelot very quickly found a solution
to make it with metal,

fully in metal, with wooden parts
on the left and right sides.

And the last problem was how to cover it, on the top.

So first they made a metal one, but this didn't work.

The engineering team said, "Ugh, typical
designers... We can't do that!"

It really made a lot of noise when the
loudspeaker began to rattle, right?

Then Dieter had the idea to create
the lid from plexiglass.

That had just started around that time,
using plexiglass as a material.

It was no longer a novelty.

And Erwin finally said, "That's the way
we're going to do it. Period."

Because it was a clear lid, that allowed them
to put all of the controls on top.

Whereas previously they had been on the front,
now they could be on top

and seen through the lid for the first time.

Things suddenly took off in terms of products

after the Snow White's Coffin, as the SK 4 was known.

In the beginning, the camera flash units
were our bread and butter.

Then came the razors.

Then the household appliances.

After the products started winning awards,
Braun suddenly became known worldwide.

I was also fascinated by what we were
doing at Braun. It was unique.

I'd go to the production area from time to time,

and you walk through and people know your name.

You suddenly get the feeling you belong there.

Fritz Eichler was officially the head of design.

Then in 1961, I became the leader of
the design department.

And the design department grew quite quickly.

One of the first was Gerd Mueller.

We were friends.

Richard Fischer and Reinhold Weiss were
important for the design department,

because they taught us what they had learned in Ulm.

The leaders of the model building
department were Roland Weigend

and Robert Kemper.

Dietrich Lubs handled all of the product graphics.

In addition, Robert Oberheim came to our group,

also Jürgen Greubel - there are a few others
to name, of course.

Were there any women in the design department?


There were a few, but they were
technical draftswomen.

As engineers, there were none.

But next to the design department, we had
a photography department.

And in this department there were three women,

including Ingeborg.

The design department was surprisingly
very open, very collaborative.

We made suggestions which were then discussed
with Erwin and Artur Braun.

They'd say, "This could be interesting. This could
be a good product for Braun."

The whole atmosphere was very friendly because we
also spent time together outside of work.

Frankfurt was the center of the jazz scene
during Braun's early days.

Of course, we loved to party at the time.

We'd always end up in jazz cellars
in the evenings.

Most radios back then had "carpets"
in front of the speakers.

They looked like plush carpets, right?

I wanted to do away with all that, I wanted
the sound to be more natural.

The TP 1 was one of the first transistor radios we had,

combined with a record player.

I like to call it "The First Walkman."

You could have it as part of a system
or you could use it separately.

It was a question of how you
approached the technicians.

And basically that's how this was developed.
I asked, "Can you play it from underneath?"

But making it possible to play from below,
and getting the pressure correct,

that was all the engineers' doing.

I didn't want the Braun logo on the front.
It was on the back. That was sufficient.

The constant battle, which I eventually
lost with the last CEO,

was because he wanted the Braun
logo to be larger all the time.

When you are new someplace and
have to introduce yourself,

or you enter a room and say, "I'm so-and-so."

You don't shout. Please, you should
do it quietly.

Just imagine, if you have many products
- and we wanted more and more -

if they all shouted, "I am Braun!"

That will irritate people.

When I started studying design at university,

he seemed like the guy who wrote
the book on design.

The Braun philosophy was part
of our learning materials.

Actually I have seen this product's photo, but I have never touched.

So... very good.

I guess...

there's nothing more complete than this.

The graphics around the tuner and the hardware
interface where your fingertips touch,

I think this is an icon that had a huge
impact on Apple.

You see a clear resemblance in the
iPod dial for example.

Same with the speaker hole layout.

The grid system was already quite well-known
in graphic design, in the layout of letters,

but he applied it to making products.

When it comes to aesthetics, everything you'd want
to achieve as a designer is in here.

By the end of the '60s, we already had all the designs

that resulted in Braun being
in the Museum of Modern Art.

The usage is the starting point of any design.

Dieter Rams, 42 years old, is one of the
most well-known designers in Germany.

All of sudden, people were calling me Mr. Braun.

There's a reason that Erwin Braun pushed Rams forward
and put him in the limelight for his designs.

He looks the part, he's super photogenic.

But there's this fixation that the press tends to do of saying

that all responsible, utilitarian, reduced design is Dieter Rams.

And it's not. And he keeps saying it!

A lot of his designs are co-designs.

A lot of stuff that's attributed to him was actually
done by other members of his team, but

people just want to put one face, one name to this
whole aesthetic and this whole design position.

Naturally, this led to problems,

which I tried to remove by
mentioning everyone by name.

But it should have been different.

It should have always been seen
as a group, with everyone else.

I didn't see myself as a designer
when people called me Mr. Braun.

I saw it more as a compliment that I
was able to contribute to Braun's image.

Dieter was almost fatherly.

Not what some may expect from a boss.

Of course, if something wasn't working, he tried
to point us in the right direction.

But we were able to work freely.

The product's graphics were very important.
Dieter paid a lot of attention to that.

We were trying to eliminate the need for user
manuals, which isn't entirely possible.

But we wanted to make it so that the machine
could at least be used without one.

Which means a reduction to the bare essentials and
removal of any elements that could be a distraction.

The ET 66 was supposed to be a simple calculator
for the general household.

The keys were neatly separated and color-coded

so that you could immediately tell which row
of keys would have which function.

Today I see this as an example of something that
can't be improved upon or made obsolete.

You talk to anybody who grew up between
the '50s and, say, the '90s -

Just about anyone will remember having a
Braun product of some kind.

Whether it was the hair dryer or their father's
razor or the coffee machine.

But you know I - when I first encountered Rams' work,
I found it very difficult, very masculine.

It's quite clinical in a way.

It was not until I went to visit him at his house,

and there I saw him living with all his products.

I began to really appreciate and really understand
the skill involved with them and the quality.

There was this idea that domestic appliances
are there to serve the user.

Therefore it had to stay in the background.

It mustn't push to the front, it mustn't
insist on it's own presence.

It just had to do its job and be out of the way.

And that was absolutely fundamental
to the 10 Principles.

Everything interacts and is dependent
on other things.

We must think more thoroughly about
what we are doing,

how we are doing it and why we are doing it.

I set out the basic considerations that
shaped my work as a designer

and laid out the fundamentals of my design philosophy.

I formulated these 10 Principles.

Good design is innovative.

Design always comes about in connection
with innovative technology.

How can the design be good if the technology
is not on the same level?

Good design makes a product useful.

Good design optimizes usefulness and ignores anything
that doesn't serve the purpose or works against it.

Good design is aesthetic.

Objects you use daily significantly shape your personal
surroundings and your sense of well-being.

Only something that is well-made can be beautiful.

Good design makes a product understandable.

It makes it easy to understand the structure of the product.

Even more, it can make the product "talk."
Ideally, it explains itself best.

Good design is unobtrusive.

Products that serve a purpose have the characteristics of a tool.

Their design should be neutral and leave room
for the user's self-expression.

Good design is honest.

Honest means not trying to make a product look more innovative,
powerful, or more valuable than it really is.

Good design is long-lasting.

In contrast to fashionable design, it lasts many years
even in our current throwaway society.

Good design is thorough down to the last detail.

Nothing should be arbitrary or left up to chance.

Thoroughness and precision are expressions
of respect for the user.

Good design is environmentally friendly.

Design makes an important contribution
to preserving the environment.

It conserves resources and minimizes
physical and visual pollution.

Good design is as little design as possible.

Back to simplicity. Back to purity.

Less, but better.

I always emphasized that they weren't meant
to last forever. They should be updated.

I think Rams is probably the first product designer,
and the last product designer.

He was one of the first to engage in product design

and yet, already at that point, he gave us
the most accurate answer.

Dieter often talks about how angry and indignant
he felt when Gillette acquired Braun.

He was against having to constantly change
the designs for the sake of marketing.

Later, when the Braun Brothers were gone
and Gillette was in charge,

I don't know how many CEOs I reported to -
at least ten when I count them all up.

If you don't have someone who stands
behind you, then you can forget it.

In 1995, I left the design department.

Actually, I was pushed out and
given the imposing title:

"Executive Director, Corporate Identity."

I finally left in 1997.

And I got a bit more involved with Vitsoe.

In the 1950s, Rams was at a trade exhibition
and is introduced

by Otto Zapf, a furniture maker

to this Danish guy called Niels Vitsoe.

Over the next couple of years,
they develop the ideas

so that in 1959 Vitsoe was formed

As they're developing these ideas, Rams realizes that he's
moonlighting on the side

from his full-time employment at Braun.

That he has to go to Erwin Braun and say, "Well, can I
continue doing this work in any formal way?"

It was Erwin Braun who said,
"Let Rams design furniture."

"It can only help sell our radios."

You have to understand, people at that
time only had small apartments.

There were social-housing apartments
with a very small footprint.

The cramped space had to become usable.
And that's how this furniture came about.

It was ultimately a system that could furnish
a bedroom, living room or even the kitchen.

Above all, people needed, with the aid of design,

to start thinking about furnishing differently.

I had just graduated, moving into my first flat.

I read about a shop that had just opened on the West End.

One day I walked in and they were installing
on the wall a black shelving system.

The owner explained to me that it was designed by
this guy called Dieter Rams.

I went "Oh, hang on. Well, I've got a Braun
alarm clock and a Braun razor."

So when he mentioned the name Rams,
it just rang half a bell.

About a week later he said, "Well, would you like to
come and work with us?"

And that was where it all started.

Nice to meet you again.

But I like this. And children like it, too.

And I like the feeling. It's very good.
It's very...

Compliments to all of you.

We probably have one or two of the original Rams

back catalogue that we would like to
put back into production.

The one that, personally, I have always felt we should bring
back from the early '60s was this chair called 601.

A very simple outline profile with a
T shaped aluminum leg.

I've observed the way in which its form and profile
and method of upholstery have

found their way into some other
products on the market.

I think it was probably 40 or 50 years
ahead of its time.

This is the one where we've looked at
increasing the height slightly.

I don't like increasing the height.
I would prefer the arm length.

If you get some steel part...

screwed together with the leg. Yeah?

Dieter, should we offer this chair in fabric
or only in leather?

- No! No, in leather only.
- Only in leather.

- Same procedure as with the 620.
- Same procedure as every year.

These things should speak the same language.
And that makes sense.

It was always what I was trying to do
with the Braun products.

Even if a kitchen machine is different
from a radio or from a hifi.

But all together it makes one family.

And the same should happen with this. People should go,
"Oh, that comes from Vitsoe."

I find it better to improve things

than to be constantly forced to come up
with something new,

which is often not new but is
formalistically superimposed.

If I start with the outside, then it
will always be formalistic.

And that's why I prefer the term re-engineering.

I want to start with the inside. Always from
inside to outside.

And I have to do this with my thinking as well.
From inside to outside.

Of course, I can't influence everything. To do
that I would need to live in London, right?

Things happen here.

But Mark always asks me when
he has to make a decision.

And that makes me pleased to still be involved.

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.

Less would be better everywhere.

Dieter is a man with incredible
sensitivity and understanding

and appreciation of the natural world.

In the 1970s, he was one of the early voices saying,
"What are we doing to our planet?"

And he woke up sort of mid-70s and went
"Woah, am I part of the problem?"

"I'm making all of this injection-molded
plastic stuff."

And that was where the 10 Principles for Good Design
came from,

because he was questioning himself.

Saying, "Well actually, are we producing something
that is adding value to the planet,

that is not just depleting the resources?"

The challenge is how we can take Dieter's very strongly
held belief forward in another generation.

We have now been spending many years
designing a new building for Vitsoe.

A new headquarters and production building.
But equally will be a residential building.

That building, and so many of the ideas
and techniques that we're deploying in it,

are completely formed by his Principles for Good Design.

We're seeing it as being a living experiment.

So Dieter, there you have our little building.

- A lot of space.
- A lot of space.


And so you're walking now into
the main assembly area.

We will be making the chairs right here.

And then we will have divisions coming down from the beam,
hanging the full height of the building.

So we have five bedrooms.

Because we have people come for 6 or 8 weeks
from Los Angeles or New York or Munich.

When they are newly recruited, then they can come
and stay here, live in the building.

Got the good windows, so lovely natural light.

We've designed it that we should have no lights
on during daylight hours. No lights at all.

It's a special fire board, and it's on both sides.

You have to create a fire barrier from
the plant room out to here.

And I wanted to be completely honest
that that is a fire barrier.


For me, it's almost like a paper is on it. But you're saying
it's only printed on it.

- It's just printed on it.
- And you will leave the printing?

Yeah. But we could take it off, we could
sand it off. But I quite like the honesty.

It looks more honest if it's away, because...

It's a little bit irritating.

I was of the opinion that it was the cover
material on the panels.

- So, sand it?
- I agree with that. Sand it.

Fine, we will sand it. If we see Alastair, we'll -

Tell Alastair we're sanding it, ok?

So our commercial kitchen will be here,
and then all of our tables and benches -

Because we want to stop the whole building
for half an hour at lunchtime.

And a cook prepares the food and serves everybody here.

- So that will be the canteen?
- This is the canteen.

This is beech.

And this is birch.

Yeah, wonderful.

The rule in this building has been no paintbrushes.

Natural materials, natural finishes.

So many of the people who have
worked in this building

have had to get used to the fact

that where their workmanship, their craftsmanship
is normally covered up,

in this building it will not be covered up.

So you've seen the quality of their work

has gone much higher because
they're all taking care.

Because they know that their pipes
and their wires are all on display.

In the '50s and '60s, there was this drive
for modern, the new.

But then came the '70s.

Rams' type of design was rejected
by a lot of designers.

They were looking for colors and shapes
and swirls and statements.

It's only later as designers got really sick of that and said,
"There must be something more to this,"

they realized that the directions we were
going in had become very decadent.

Then this interest in Rams began to grow again.

And I think it also had a lot to do with
Mark Adams and Vitsoe.

And going through this effort to spread the message.

And you talked about subletting?

We do not need all of this space immediately.

The ground space or do you mean the space up -

But it should be an open subletting.

Yeah, absolutely. Oh yeah.

That means you have to find companies that fit in.

- Only, only. That's the number one on the list. Number one.
- That will be difficult to achieve, don't you think so?

And if we can't achieve it, we won't do it.

That's what I wanted to hear.

I think the world is going where you just try
to create one rigid culture in a space.

And I think we working at Vitsoe would benefit from other
people around, as other people would from us.

But they have to be the right people.

We'll go and get some food and drink.
We'll just go and walk over.

Can we leave the...

I normally don't wear hats. So now I have a little problem.

Is it too tight?

- I have the feeling I have to...
- It's too much pressure?

- Yeah.
- No.

It's the english word of "es juckt mir den Kopf."

- Ah yes, he needs to scratch his head.
- Oh, he needs to scratch his head! Ok.

- Because he's unused to it.
- Now you can scratch the head.

Much better.

I need fresh air on my head.

Yes, that's how we did it. I hope you like it.

What we decided last night while arranging,

was that we had to get rid of the sofa,
the black one.

It was just too crowded, too full.

And anyway, we found that this
scaled-back look works here -

- Less is better.
- Exactly, it was in line with your thinking.

That was the first Walkman,
even if it did have a short life.

Due to the software, right?

These discs were short-lived.

These, too. These objects, I love them
as much as ever, right?

They were inspired by my visits to Japan,
where I was traveling a lot at the time.

I found this way of positioning things lower

and making something flexible,
that could be easily changed.

When it comes to the designs that
Gugelot first did for Braun

these were made of maple.

I was more for beech, which also turned
yellow at the time,

but it was darker than the maple.

The Gütsch - we always called him Gütsch -

would turn over in his grave if he
saw what they look like now.

He wasn't interested in the museum value,
he wanted to make good everyday products.

Because they are still valid today, these things.

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.

That's why I find it so good that one sees
the relationship here, between your chair

and others that were made at the same time.
How research progresses.

There's a lot of reasons why the chair
is so central for furniture designers.

The chair stands free in space. You know, a table would
normally be covered, the bed is not very public.

It has always been the symbol of power, of politics,
if you think about the thrones in antique societies.

And all this makes the chair extremely
attractive for designers.

He's very clear about the people he likes.

He's also from that generation where designers dared to say,
"This, in my opinion, is bad design."

Today you would more often hear,
"This is interesting," you know?

And you never know what
does that mean, "interesting?"

Yes, of course, I think the whole world is interesting.

But I'm currently thinking - asking myself -
whether we're not entering a time where

this question, "Is it good or not good?" is maybe
becoming more important again.

We just can't afford to be so indifferent.

So here we are with your contemporaries,
Eames and Nelson.

Yes, the first Eames studies in molded wood.

What I love most, what undoubtedly influenced
me quite a bit,

is Eames' furniture, which was
incredibly technical for its time.

I liked George Nelson a lot.

But I never understood what he meant by that.

Is that because of the colors or the material?

It's not really the colors...

In general, it's too playful for me.

But that's...

You don't have to like everything.

Gary said I should talk about things
that are not so good.

Here is something I really don't like.

I've forgotten the name, but experiments like this.

It's actually the most expensive piece of design
ever sold at auction.

It leads to misunderstandings.

Which the media then perpetuate, and suddenly
we hear, "Design just means expensive."

Things like this, are what lead to that.

Ettore Sottsass is a designer I truly appreciate,
both as an architect and a designer.

And the comment from George Nelson,

which I will never forget, and was brief
and to the point:

"Now our friend Ettore is becoming a guru."

He just wanted to do something completely different,

but not something that would be produced,
just demonstrated.

Frank Gehry is not a friend of mine,
neither personally nor as an architect

I'm all in favor of experiments,
but these are pretty useless.


I don't know.

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.

What I do like, is this.

Because I find that the combination of materials makes this
interesting as outdoor furniture.

I can imagine, although it's relatively new, that it
would stand the test of time outdoors,

because it's made from excellent materials.

You could sit on it in the summer
with the sun behind you,

and you wouldn't need to get a tattoo.
It has a beautiful structure.

Everything you see here has a story.

There's a story attached to everything
people do, that has to be told.

Even in the case of objects I don't like,
there's still a story.

Why was it made that way?

Is it just the material?

It's not comfortable, you can see
just by looking at it.

That's the story behind the object. Only then
does one grasp its meaning.

Even for people who have nothing to do with
architecture, or design, or creation.

What Dieter Rams once told us when we prepared the exhibition
was that he wants to design not only a single object,

but he wants to design a whole environment, or also
philosophically, a world in which people could live in.

Rams has always been Rams. You can recognize it, it has this look
of a certain color palette, a certain formal approach.

That is what makes his design work
so convincing.

Today especially, when things change so quickly.

And I think Rams shows that design can
have a very strong orientation.

And it's not that there's no evolution.
He's still working on things.

But he's working on details. But he's not
questioning his general approach.

I don't like to destroy things.

Well, it could go inside or also on the back.

On the back, anytime.

No, that's something I absolutely don't do.
Not on a product!

I don't like that. I leave that to star designers

like Starck, who does things like that. Not me.

Now I have to look to see if somebody's
behind me, because I'm too fast!

Visiting Japan, I was immediately
impressed by the simplicity

and the reserve with which many
things were expressed.

But I don't claim to have a Japanese garden,
just Japanese-inspired.

Isn't that nice?

Through the rain, the patina is now wonderful.

And he's still laughing.

The trees must all be cut.

The big ones here, I can no longer get to them.

So I have a gardener who climbs
in there once a year.

I cannot do that anymore.

The trees down here are all cut, too.

Because if they get too big,

The sun won't reach the pool anymore.

And the cutting is design.

Ok, you can say it's a hobby, but...

I like this hobby!

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.

We have to be careful now, that we rule over
the digital world, and are not ruled by it.

Dieter's 85th Birthday and opening of permanent exhibit

I was just saying it's thanks to you that
all these things ended up in this museum.

- Yes, where they belong.
- They were hidden in Braun's basement.

We wanted to show a permanent exhibition
about Dieter Rams.

Dieter said, "Okay, I have a message
also about the future of design,

about good design, and it will be in good hands
in a public museum."

We have his private papers, we have quite a big Braun collection,
and we have all of the mockups.

With his mockups we can show the design process.

Design should give answers to problems, not make new
problems. But many designs make new problems.

And this is what I like very much about Dieter,
that he says we have to make the world better.

We have a very young generation here
who wanted to take a picture with you.

A young generation at Braun?

In the design department?

I have to find my wife.

- Congratulations, my dear.
- So nice that you could come!

Great to see you in top form.

What do you mean top form?
I just came back from London.

They finished construction at Vitsoe. Everything's
in wood - everything's in beech!

My old beech comes back to life.

- It's very nice. When you're in London...
- Yes, I'll have to take a look.

Jürgen, do you remember this thing?

It was the first thing with a record player
that you could mount to the wall.

Look, you can see the scale is still...


It's a piece of paper that was
glued on with tweezers.

I think Dieter's legacy is simply the work
from those 50 years.

This legacy, it's 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.

That's been another one of his goals, a major goal.

I wanted to ask what advice you'd give to
a young industrial design student?

Keep your eyes wide open when you walk
through the city, or through a room.

And don't believe everything the teachers
tell you, because it's not all correct.

But what should one say about
Dieter Rams on his birthday?

A speech about his accomplishments?
An overview of his life?

I'd much rather speak on a topic that has
been present since his abilities began,

that keyword is functionalism.

Braun products were functional, long-lasting,
high quality, and highly aesthetic.

Some products hadn't changed in many years and
didn't need to be replaced by newfangledness.

And finally, they weren't emotionless;

many owners had emotional relationships
with their Braun products,

similar to the emotional relationship
one has with a teddy bear.

Dieter Rams, with his teams at Braun and Vitsoe,
practiced design that was valid at the time,

and I'm sure will remain valid for a long time to come.

My best wishes to you on your birthday, Dieter Rams.

A good friend and colleague advised me today,
when he congratulated me on my birthday,

that I should say a sentence from my 10 Principles,

and then "Thank you" and that's it.

Now I'm one year older and...

I feel very good.

I need a cane every now and then because
my knee was operated on,

but otherwise it's still pretty good.

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.

People are understandably anxious about the future.

When you see what is happening
in America with this new President

who seems more intent on stoking
this anxiety and increasing fear.

The last thing we need is fear.

Politicians are obviously incapable of
removing this fear.

But most of my colleagues - architects,
urban planners or designers -

they are capable of doing this.

Design only works when it really seeks
to achieve something for humanity.

Motionhouse dance-circus company subletting from Vitsoe

I think Dieter's surprisingly pessimistic
about the future.

But then I think he's also maybe not so aware of how much
his principles have influenced people.

Because Rams' design is not just design,
it's a whole attitude.

It incorporates everything about how you live.

It's about getting rid of excess, visual clutter,
and just living with what you need.

Less but better is quite an amazing legacy.

What better thing could you want than that?