Dieter Rams has a new challenge for Apple

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

Dieter Rams, a god-like figure to industrial designers around the world, usually speaks very glowingly about the design of Apple products.

But in a new documentary with the aptly minimalist title Rams, he expresses a growing sadness and frustration over the disposable excess that Apple and other Silicon Valley tech companies produce.

Filmmaker Gary Hustwit told a Fast Company interviewer that Rams himself feels complicit for creating an industry that has brought ruin to the environment and made us addicted to screens.

Dieter Rams has some regrets

The recent premiere in San Francisco drew the “whole” Apple design team plus employees from other major tech companies.

In one scene, Rams is in a London Apple store looking at an iPad and “lamenting” how people don’t look at each other.

“I am of the opinion that all this digitization now is becoming more and more a part of our life,” Rams says. “I think it diminishes our ability to experience things. There are pictures that disappear, one after the other, without leaving traces up here (he points to his head). 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.”

Rams, 86, was an architect before he turned to design, creating some of the most influential products for Braun in the mid-20th Century.

Apple design chief Jony Ive often speaks of Rams as a major influence on his work. Rams has called Apple one of the few companies that understand and practices good design.

“I am always fascinated when I see the latest Apple products,” Rams said in 2011. “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.”

Huswit told Fast Company Rams’ has been reassessing his legacy. The interview for the movie is the last he will grant, Huswit said.

“I do feel like it’s a challenge to the design world to reassess what we’re producing, why we’re producing it, and how we could do better,” Huswit said. “Do we really need all this stuff?

“San Francisco is the center of the design world packed with all these people, and they’re listening to this 86-year-old German guy in his backyard for an hour and a half, about like, how they’re f—-ing up. And they’re loving it, and they’re laughing.”

Source: Fast Company

Rams – Teaser (Less and Better) from Film First on Vimeo.