GIN4B was initiator and key organizer of the symposium “Less and More – German Design Reconsidered”, held at the Goethe-Institut in San Francisco on August 26th 2011. The exclusive event brought together leading German and American creatives, design-orientated businesses as well as cultural and governmental representatives and was supported by the German American Chamber of Commerce, the German General Consulate San Francisco and the local Goethe-Institut.
Pre-opening line in front of San Francisco’s Goethe-Insitut | © 2011 Philipp Weitz Photography
More than 100 selected guests listened to a keynote held by Professor Klaus Klemp, Head of Exhibition at the Museum of Applied Art in Frankfurt and Co-curator of the current San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) exhibition “Less and More – The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams”. Professor Klemp guided the audience through four decades of Braun design, from 1955 – when Dieter Rams joined Braun – to the mid 90’s. During this timespan Rams and the Braun design team developed more than 500 iconic products for the German home appliance company.
Professor Klemp specified various reasons for their long-lasting success. One of them were the close collaborations with the Ulm School of Design and the Dessau Bauhaus Foundation. Teamwork within the design team and across disciplines was another key factor; the close engagement of Braun’s engineering and design departments as well as the involvement and dedication of the two owners Erwin and Artur Braun led to the development of products that combined innovative technology with an unprecedented design language. A success story that inevitably reminds on one of today’s most-loved brands: Apple.
Professor Klemp talking about Dieter Rams and the Braun Design Team | © 2011 Philipp Weitz Photography
Dieter Rams is still regarded as one of the most influential industrial designer of our time and his Ten Principles for Good Design
were the starting point for the symposium’s panel discussion. Moderated by GIN4B Founder Stefanie Then, Professor Klemp was joined by panelists Thomas Overthun – Associate Partner and Design Director at IDEO, Wilhelm Oehl – Partner at Eight Inc., Daniel Hundt – Creative Director at One & Co., Markus Diebel – Vice President of Design at Incase and Moni Wolf, Principal Design Director at Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business.
Panelists Professor Klemp and Markus Diebel with Moderator Stefanie Then | Photo © 2011 John McDermott
Markus Diebel, who attended Art Center College in Pasadena, stated – though he was never taught the Ten Principles for Good Design – he intuitively applies them when designing products. Unlike Diebel, Daniel Hundt received his industrial design degree in Darmstadt, Germany, where he was repeatedly confronted with Dieter Rams’ work. ” The Ten Principles certainly have their validness though i can’t say they became a guideline for my work”, Hundt said. The question if German Design per se or even a specific Dieter Rams style exist, was denied by Professor Klemp: “There isn’t something as a Dieter Rams style. At the most, there is an attitude which can’t be understood as typical German design because those rules are applied by numerous designers all over the world. Exceptional examples are Naoto Fukasawa, Jasper Morrison and Jonathan Ive”. Wilhelm Oehl believes that German design exists. Though it might not be visible in a certain design language, it can be seen in a specific approach to problem solving and execution which are quite different from those in other countries.
Wilhelm Oehl (Eight Inc.) with Dieter Rams | © 2011 Philipp Weitz Photography
During the Q&A session, Dieter Rams himself joined the panel. “Today’s designers have to design “Less but Better”, was his key message, considering that billions of new consumers are going to enter the markets over the next years. He shared insights about Erwin and Artur Braun whose priority was to develop high-end design products. Only Apple shares similar values, making it the sole present company with creative impact. The discussion concluded with the statement that innovation and sustainability will be the future key drivers for a design-led company’s success.