Dieter Rams' interview

Interesting interview by german designer Dieter Rams read the other day at the train station in Zürich.

What struck as fascinating was that Rams was, at first, hired to design stuff but with a different mission that led him to nail down design process:

"One of my first jobs in the design department was to harmonise the relationship between the designers and the technicians and so build up trust. There was certainly no form to the design process; for example, as yet there were no briefings. Later on we created teams consisting of designers, marketing people and technicians who, from the start, all worked together on a product. Such a framework does have a huge effect on the design process. The design projects then followed the tasks set by each of the individual areas – whether it be hi-fi, body care, health care etc. There was a business director who was at the same level as the technical director and the design director."

He also tackles relevant aspects in terms of marketing issues:

"[reacting to the marketing take-over at Braun]This always had to do with the ever-increasing quantities that had to be produced. And with the fact that more complex production technology also necessitated huge investments in toolmaking and production facilities. Marketing gained in importance at the end of the seventies as it was responsible for ensuring competitiveness and a return on investment. (...) the reason for the actual problem may be that no one wants to admit that at some point they have reached the end of the line. Yet you can't always be making a new shaver or a new coffee machine unless you come up with a real innovation – and here I'm not talking about tinkering with the shape or the colour. And then people think that this will increase sales a bit more. They're dreaming! Yet for all this it seems as if most managers still believe that just having a sheer mass of products on the market achieves something. Right now, that is the problem with the car industry. They have been shoving more and more cars onto the market yet it is obvious that the markets have long been saturated. And yet these are precisely the development programme targets being set by the design divisions of larger companies. But I still maintain that the way is to produce less, but better. "

Why do I blog this? curiosity towards Ram's approach and thinking.