Dieter Rams: “Apple has achieved something I never did”

The design legend admits that Apple is in a class by itself.

Dieter Rams, the longtime designer at Braun who in recent years has become famous in ever-widening circles because of his influence on Apple’s Jony Ive, as well as his enduring 10 Principles of Design, recently acknowledges in an interview that Ive has complimented him and his work and he admits Ive and Apple has achieved something he never did. Rams’ views on Design as a profession are somewhat worrisome, to say the least.

“I have always regarded Apple products – and the kind words Jony Ive has said about me and my work – as a compliment. Without doubt there are few companies in the world that genuinely understand and practise the power of good design in their products and their businesses…

I have always observed that good design can normally only emerge if there is a strong relationship between an entrepreneur and the head of design. At Apple this situation exists – between Steve Jobs and Jony Ive. This was the case at Braun where I always reported to Erwin and Artur Braun or, after their departure, the chairman of the board. It is the same in my relationship with the furniture manufacturer, Vitsoe, where I worked closely with the founder Niels Vitsoe and, since his death, Mark Adams – a period now spanning more than 50 years.

I am always fascinated when I see the latest Apple products. Apple has managed to achieve what I never achieved: using the power of their products to persuade people to queue to buy them. For me, I had to queue to receive food at the end of World War II. That’s quite a change.

I am troubled by the devaluing of the word ‘design’. I find myself now being somewhat embarrassed to be called a designer. In fact I prefer the German term, Gestalt-Ingenieur. Apple and Vitsoe are relatively lone voices treating the discipline of design seriously in all corners of their businesses. They understand that design is not simply an adjective to place in front of a product’s name to somehow artificially enhance its value. Ever fewer people appear to understand that design is a serious profession; and for our future welfare we need more companies to take that profession seriously.

Dieter Rams: Apple has achieved something I never did.

Published: July 25th, 2011

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