Dieter Rams

2 minutes estimated reading time

I was watching the Dieter Rams documentary – Rams: Principles of Good Design by film maker Gary Hustwit and a small section jumped out at me.

I immediately thought of how Spotify and other streaming services have dramatically changed our relationship with music. Music is as good a place to start as any, Dieter Rams first sprang to prominence due to a stereo dubbed Snow White’s coffin. Streamed music is not something that is actively listened to. The music disappears without leaving a trace.

Digitisation diminishes our experience of things.

Pictures appear and disappear one after the other without leaving a trace up here (pointing to his head).

This goes insanely fast. 

And maybe that’s why we can or want to, consume so much. 

The world that can be perceived through the senses exudes an aura that I believe cannot be digitised. 

We have to be careful now, that we rule over the digital world, and are not ruled by it. 

Dieter Rams – Rams: Principles of Good Design

Of course, consumerism took off at a rate of knots way before the cellphone became mainstream let alone the smartphone. But his comments about content being ephemeral in nature, lacking in memorability or substance rang through. Rams maybe right, we’re at a time where consumer interest in analogue media formats such as the vinyl record and the cassette tape is on the rise.

There are even niche record labels that put out recordings on reel-to-reel tape for well-heeled and committed listener. As for the digital medium, the playlist is more important than the album or single, let alone the artist name. Even well established acts fail to make significant returns from streamed music. In some respects it goes back to era of the Rediffusion radio set that piped music into the consumers home, rather than ‘owned media’ from the LP to the iPod.

Dieter Rams

We’re seeing a move away from DAW (digital audio workstation) based instruments in music that Dieter Rams would likely approve of. And a move to hardware that would have been familiar to the 1970s version of Brian Eno. Despite the best efforts of Pearson Education and Amazon; consumers still love printed books.

Continued love of Dieter Rams’ and his team’s own designs at Braun and Vistoe are an illustration of that championing of the real over virtual. More on design here.