Design guru Dieter Rams says Apple built his dream PC

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Dieter Rams
Legendary designer Dieter Rams. Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Vitsoe/Wikimedia Commons

Braun’s lauded designer, Dieter Rams, has long been cited as an inspiration behind Apple’s classic design. Nearly everything Rams touched, from calculators tape recorders, radios, and even infrared emitters, have inspired Apple’s products, and according to Dieter himself, it’s a huge compliment.

In a recent interview with Fast Company, the prolific designer said if he had to do it all over again, he “would not want to be a designer.” However, if he were forced to take out his sketchpad and design a computer, it’d probably look just like Apple’s.

“It would look like one of Apple’s products,” said Rams, when asked about how he’d design a computer. “In many magazines, or on the Internet, people compare Apple products to things which I designed, with this or that transistor radio from 1965 or 1955. In terms of aesthetics, I think their designs are brilliant. I don’t consider it an imitation. I take it as a compliment.”

Rams actually got started in design by studying architecture at the Wiesbaden School of Art in 1947. Once he graduated and landed job with a firm, a colleague recommended he apply to Braun’s ad for an architect. Dieter landed the job and then become more involved with the company’s industrial design.

The background in architecture was incredibly useful when it came to designing products. “In industrial design, everything for the production has to be clarified in advance,” said Rams. “You have to think carefully in advance about what you’re making and how you will make it, because for both architecture and industrial design, the cost of changing things afterward is much higher than the cost of better preparation. So I learned a lot from architecture.”

Like Apple, Rams is very concerned about the environment and says that being more environmentally responsible is one of the biggest challenges facing designers.

“I’m also angry that there isn’t more design happening in the environmental area. For example, I think solar technology has to be integrated much more into new architecture. We need renewable energy in the future, and it has to be a.) integrated into existing structures and b.) articulated more clearly in new structures. We are guests on this planet, and we have to do more to keep it healthy in the future.”

Rams also shot off of the arbitrariness and the thoughtlessness with which many products are designed today, as well as why he wouldn’t be a designer. The full interview is well worth a read over at Fast Co.