A century of design — with and without Dieter Rams — giving credit where credit is due.
Every object made by humans has a story to tell. There’s the story of the people who made it, of the materials chosen, and the creative motivation. Only when you understand the story do you understand an object’s meaning. Or so says Dieter Rams, who headed up product design at Braun from 1961 to 1995.
Braun: Designed to Keep is the story of Braun. It’s billed as “the most comprehensive history” of the company to date. Telling it requires more than 400 pages and 500 images, including never-before-published archival materials and brand-new full-page photography of Braun’s most iconic products, each instilled with Rams’ “less, but better” approach that would directly influence designers like Naoto Fukasawa and Apple’s Jony Ive.
What’s most striking as I thumbed through an advanced copy is how desirable many of those early Braun products remain today, some of which were introduced almost 70 years ago. No surprise, I guess, given the disposable detritus you’ll find on Amazon and AliExpress, places where product design prostrates itself to the gods of mass consumption and devices vary with flourishes of useless decoration usually reserved for the Walmart cereal aisle.
I mean, just look at the TP1 (1959) in the image below, the portable predecessor to the Walkman that worked as a radio and also played records from the bottom like a Miniot turntable, and the T3 transistor radio (1958) that certainly provided Ive with some inspiration for the iPod’s click wheel interface: