We all acknowledge Apple as one of the iconic brands of our times, if not for anything else, for being the brand behind inspiring products like the Cube, iMac, iPhone or the just release MacBook Air. Objects that make up our dreams, objects that, subtly, crafted and enriched our collective sense of design and style, objects that used to to be designed aiming their function, rather than the pleasure or value of their use. By introducing design in such objects some brands like Apple have obviously managed to capitalize on and progressively enriched our experience in their products use.

Good ideas and in particular good design tend to foster new, better designs. Yet I’m sort of surprised to realize the influence Dieter Rams work have had on the Apple products line (especially if put together side-by-side) while reading a Gizmondo post about them:

Braun T3 and the multiple generations of iPods:
Braun T3 vs IPods
T1000 radio vs apple’s professional line products like PowerMac G5 and Mac Pro:
T1000 radio vs PowerMac G5 and Mac Pro

and you can find even more examples on the Gizmondo article about these ‘resemblences’ between these two men’s work.

Nevertheless, rather than look at them as mere ‘copies’ or ‘evolutions’, this similarities seem more like a tribute by Jonathan Ive (designer at Apple responsible for products like the iPod and iMac) to Rams life time dedication to excellent design.

RAMS and IVE

Dieter Rams work was somehow unknown to me up until today and yet I’m thrilled to discover how so many of his designed objects have been an intrinsic part of my life (I just discovered that the shaving machine I use is one of his design signature products for Braun – Braun 5500). Dieter Rams was head of Design at Braun for more than 40 years, from 1955 up until 1998 when he retired, his legacy there it’s beyond impressive and many of his works during that period managed their way into museums collections as excellent design pieces.

From his teachings, I found particular interest in his powerful (and yet simple) guidelines for excellent design:

  • Good design is innovative.
  • Good design makes a product useful.
  • Good design is aesthetic.
  • Good design helps us to understand a product.
  • Good design is unobtrusive.
  • Good design is honest.
  • Good design is durable.
  • Good design is consequent to the last detail.
  • Good design is concerned with the environment.
  • Good design is as little design as possible.
  • Back to purity, back to simplicity.

If nothing more to retain from Rams work and teachings, I would suggest that his maxim:

Less, but better

be retained on the minds of each and every software developer or user interface designer to be applied on their works. If you’d like to know a bit more about RAMS I also suggest that you read his interview for ICON Magazine.