Minimalissimo


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Furniture manufacturer Vitsœ and German industrial designer Dieter Rams are likely to be familiar names to our readers. It is a wonderful collaboration between these two that I have the pleasure of sharing with you today — the 621 Side Table. Originally designed by Rams in 1962 for Vitsœ, it has been re-engineered in 2014 with the addition of adjustable feet, satisfying Rams’s wish that was never fulfilled by the original. 621 has many uses for a simple table — not only a side table, coffee table or bedside table, 621 is excellent as the there-when-needed table. Vitsœ writes: Its simple design allows it to stand alone or be combined as a group to satisfy a surprising range of uses in the home or office. Turned on its end it can slide over a sofa — almost any sofa. This beautifully designed table will soon be available in two sizes (36cm and 45cm) and two colours (off-white & black).


Dieter Rams’ Ten Principles for Good Design inspired the latest weather app, WTHR, by Visual Designer David Elgena. The identity of Braun products subtly come through with the classic minimalist forms, universal icons, intuitive display and clean, simple font. The drop shadows on the symbol displays and toggle button for temperature conversion add depth while using the app which makes the iPhone transform into another (Apple) product. For $0.99 at the App store, it sounds like a bargain. After all, how often do we really need to know that today’s highest temperature in was 70C at 2.20pm when conditions were partly cloudy at 83% humidity? Stop wasting time staring at weather radars and atmospheric pressure readings, you’re not an airline pilot…WTHR™ Indeed. Devoid of all unnecessary information stripped down to just what most people in moderate climates need, I think WTHR celebrates the trend of good design in a sensory-overload culture. Check out this YouTube video for a short demo.


As we get closer to closing 2011, I thought it would be worthwile to re-visit somebody who has been featured on Minimalissimo multiple times for his visionary approach in design that never goes of out style: German industrial designer Dieter Rams. Already in the early 1980s and as a chief designer for Braun, Dieter Rams was aware and concerned by the state of the material world around him. Surrounded by what he called “an impenetrable confusion of forms, colours and noise” he created ten principles of good design that I found appropriate to feature before we enter 2012, another year full of creativity and design. 1. Good design is innovative    2. Good design makes a product useful    3. Good design is aesthetic    4. Good design helps us to understand a product    5. Good design is unobtrusive    6. Good design is honest    7. Good design is durable    8. Good design is consequent to the last detail    9. Good design is concerned with the environment    10. Good design is as little design as possible With Mr. Rams’ words in mind, I hope you find it inspiring to either design or appreciate the design that is Good Design.


In 1960, when he was just 28, Dieter Rams designed the 606 Universal Shelving System for Vitsoe. Their New York store is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary in the form of an exhibition called 60s 606 is 50. In Dwell’s interview with Dieter Rams and Vitsoe’s managing director Mark Adams, Rams described the product by saying: Never forget that a good product should be like a good English butler. They’re there for you when you need them, but in the background at all other times. Besides a few millionaires in London, most of us don’t have butlers. The butlers of today are our products and our furniture.


(This is one of a series of two posts) Dieter Rams is a fan of Naoto Fukasawa’s approach to design. Japanese product designer, Naoto Fukasawa focuses on the relationship between people and objects and their surroundings. “My job is to determine the outline of an object and to design something
 that fits right into it.” Mr. Fukasawa explains. The “Outline” is an exhibit of 65 photographs by Advertising photographer Tamotsu Fujii of 114 of Naoto Fukasawa’s product designs. “I take photographs as if I were 
looking at a piece of scenery or at a sculpture.” says Tamotsu Fujii. Like Mr. Fukasawa, Tamotsu Fujii enjoys stripping away product features and finds hidden shapes in an entirely different light. He almost obscures the identity of the object itself so design does not get in the way. The minimalist agenda. Something obvious yet almost invisible.


Minimalism is deeply rooted in the reductive aspects of modernism, in which Dieter Rams played a defining role: 50 years ago, record players didn’t look like machines. They looked like old-fashioned, brown wood furniture. But in 1956, Dieter Rams’s SK4 record player, nicknamed Snow White’s Coffin, changed all that. Rams designs are still influencing many great brands nowadays – one of which being Apple.