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October 24, 2011

Designers in Dialogue: The Influence of Dieter Rams

The Architecture and Design Forum (A+D) of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) invited to a panel discussion about Dieter Rams’ influence on the work of several prominent Bay Area designers. The panel consisted of Designers Yves Behar (Founder of Fuseproject), Michael DiTullo (Creative Director at Frog Design), Cathy Bailey (Heath Ceramics) and German-born Markus Diebel (Vice President Design at Incase). The event was hosted by Swissnex, an organization promoting interdisciplinary knowledge exchange between the US and Switzerland.
After a short introduction of the panelists, moderator Joseph Becker (SFMOMA) quoted Dieter Rams’ Ten Principles of Good Design and referred to the currently ongoing exhibition “Less and More – the Design Ethos of Dieter Rams” which can be seen at SFMOMA until February 2012. Dieter Rams is regarded as one of the most influential industrial designers of our time, and has overseen the development of more than 500 iconic products for the German household appliance company Braun from 1959 to the early 90’s.
Becker directed the discussion away from Dieter Rams’ Ten Principles of Good Design towards how today’s designer can craft an holistic experience. He mentioned Apple, which is mimicking Braun’s success by engaging research and development with engineering and design. The end result are products that do speak for themselves. “Design today is about creating experiences and the hard lines of the individual disciplines become blurry in favor of an overall total design approach. How can we look at the idea of the design of a brand as something as beyond a physical product?”, he asked Markus Diebel. Referring to the brand Incase, Diebel stated their products transcend beyond functionality, because they reflect an emotional reference to a social context or culture. He mentioned the many collaborations with artists, musicians and photographers who turn the brand into a stage for artistic expression and innovation. “We are not only trying to make meaningful products that create a better experience through good design, we are also building a cultural context in which those designs live and evolve. This creates a brand authenticity and credibility which transcends beyond its products”, he concludes. Later in the discussion Yves Behar referred to a recent article in Fast Company where designers are named the new drivers of American Entrepreneurialism. Examples are YouTube, Airbnb, Flickr, Tumblr, Vimeo and more design-led and innovation-based companies that develop more than just a product. “Creativity goes far beyond object making into experience making, into business building and new business models”, Behar said. The discussion ended with the question from the audience about what will future design look like. Diebel stated that the design of the future will be more complex and the challenge will be to turn this into a simple message. He’s advising young designer to concentrate on what they do best. Cathy Bailey adds ” you can’t do it all, can’t understand every culture and point of view but what really gets you strongest is if you stick true to what you really love”.

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