Gary Hustwit 'My Dieter Rams film won't be messy!'

Director says upcoming Rams documentary won't feature a parade of famous designers but will keep it simple
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Dieter Rams
Dieter Rams

Dieter Rams: As Little Design As Possible is an 'amazing' book according to the design historian, photographer and film director Gary Hustwit. And it's served as a benchmark of sorts in his quest to make a film about the legendary Braun and Vitsoe designer. As we reported a couple of weeks back, Hustwit is nearing the target of a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund his documentary film, Rams, which will be the first ever on the German designer. 

With the project target almost in sight Hustwit, who first interviewed Dieter Rams for his 2009 film Objectified, has been revealing a few more details about the approach he's taking for the film.  

 

Dieter Rams for Braun - photo by Florian Bohm
Dieter Rams for Braun - photo by Florian Bohm

"Rams had been approached many times before and he just wasn’t interested in being involved in a documentary. To some degree he felt like he had told all the stories before," Hustwit said. "But hopefully the film will reach outside the core design audience - I think that’s what sort of swayed him and got him to agree to do it."

 

Dieter Rams for Braun - photograph by Florian Bohm
Dieter Rams for Braun - photograph by Florian Bohm

Hustwit said that when he first imagined the movie, he did so as "almost a dance film about objects or a performance film about stuff. I think that’s again something that’s going to be fun and interesting. I really want to keep it stripped down. Sometimes the subject matter of the film kind of dictates your approach. I don’t think I could have a messy cluttered documentary about Dieter Rams. In terms of other people in the film, it’s going to be a very short list and I’m still coming up with who is going to be on the list. It’s just not a case where I’m going to have a parade of famous designers and other people talking about how great Dieter Rams is. It’s got to be absolutely necessary for another voice to be in the film besides Dieter’s." 

 

Dieter Rams for Braun - photograph by Florian Bohm
Dieter Rams for Braun - photograph by Florian Bohm

Phaidon suspects that one of those voices will be Apple designer Jonathan Ive. In his introduction to our book Dieter Rams: As Little Design As Possible, Ive writes about coming across the work of Rams as a student. "While studying design in the 1980s I read about Dieter Rams and his work with his team at Braun," he writes. "But the reading was never as powerful as seeing and using his products. Rams is defined by what he does rather than what he says. And what Dieter Rams and his team at Braun did was to produce hundreds of wonderfully conceived and designed objects: products that were beautifully made in high volumes and that were broadly accessible."

 

Dieter Rams for Braun - photograph by Florian Bohm
Dieter Rams for Braun - photograph by Florian Bohm

Nowadays Ive is pretty much inseparable from the groundbreaking products he designed for  Apple. However, it's interesting to note that, back in the day, Rams did not enjoy the kind of recognition from the general public that the Apple designer does - a view Hustwit shares.

"No one knew his name. I think a lot of designers of that era are sort of overlooked by the mass public. We all probably all had a Braun alarm clock, or something he designed, in our households growing up, but we didn’t know who was behind it. It’s pretty much just the past 15-20 years that people outside (design) started connecting that."

 

Vitsoe 620 chair -Dieter Rams
Vitsoe 620 chair -Dieter Rams

Hustwit was asked by QZ.com what it was like meeting Rams for the first time. "There is an aura around him," he replied. It’s probably because he’s German and because a lot of the stuff he makes is very kind of minimal, and sometimes kind of severe. It’s very functional. I think people sort of ascribe that to his personality, but he’s definitely not like that. He’s very, very single minded and driven and focused, and I think that’s sometimes what people respond to. Just don’t get in his way when he’s passionate about something, or he has a strong opinion about how something should be designed, or not designed! 

Dieter Rams's home - photograph by Florian Bohm
Dieter Rams's home - photograph by Florian Bohm

"But really he’s much more funny and more sensitive than people would probably expect him to be. That’s what it’s like. He’s a really sweet 84-year-old man who has an incredible career, who likes to trim his bonzai trees and hang out in his house, which is a complete embodiment of his philosophy in every place you look. He’s designed a way to live, and he’s living it, and he’s very content." 

 

Vitsoe 606 Shelving - Dieter Rams
Vitsoe 606 Shelving - Dieter Rams
 

Ahead of the film, you can learn more about the work of Dieter Rams and view his incredible array of influential work by buying Sophie Lovell's wonderful book, Dieter Rams: As Little Design As Possible.


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