Dieter Rams is actually a kick-ass industrial designer mostly known for the products he designed for Braun from the 50’s onwards.
Jonathan Ive is the guy responsible for the Apple Look.
I’ve been aware that Jonathan Ive is a bit of a Rams fan ever since I saw the iPhone calculator (open it next to Rams’ calculator design from 1978), but, not being that familiar with Rams’ work, I’d always thought this was a one-time-only tribute to Braun’s designer. The gizmodo post “The future of Apple is in 1960s Braun“, and especially the images of Rams designs standing next to Ive designs made it clear that Ive has been inspired by Rams in almost everything he’s ever done for Apple, and hell, inspired may be too polite a word.
To be honest, I’ve been thinking of Mr. Ive as an innovative designer for so long that I’m not sure where to go with my reaction to these overwhelming similarities. It’s a never-ending discussion which I’ve started before: where is the border between inspiration and outright theft? Should Apple products, widely known for innovative design, better be known as a Braun rip-offs? If you were Dieter Rams, would you want to whup Jonathan Ive’s ass? I’m mulling all these things over, and would definitely be interested in your opinion.
Other than the whole rip-off subject, one very worthwhile part of the gizmodo article was Rams’ “Ten Commandments on Design”. Some are surely redundant, but it’s definitely food for thought for any designer. For more detail on them, see Rams’ Wikipedia page.
- 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.
Quite a list, and some of it certainly debatable, but his three word motto is on my wavelength (and far easier to remember):
“Less, but better.”