Dieter Rams' forward-thinking innovations go under the microscope at the ADI Design Museum in Milan
By Josh Niland|
Tuesday, May 16, 2023
The work of Dieter Rams will be displayed in a new retrospective exhibition at the ADI Design Museum in Milan this summer, offering viewers a reflection on the role of contemporary design in preparing for the future via an in-depth look into the 90-year-old German industrial designer’s influential career.
“Rams is more than just a historical example and a cornerstone of the European conception of design,” Museum President Luciano Galimberti explained. “His professional and ethical perspective, which placed design in the broader context of industrial society, is a visible and valuable example to follow for today's designers who face a perennial problem in unprecedented conditions, namely that of bringing objects into harmony with the human context. Rams' famous phrase — 'Good design is as little design as possible' — is not a reference to minimalism but to the expansion of the world of design to include the whole of society, an approach that is profoundly relevant and current today.”
The exhibition is being curated by Klaus Kemp and features archival photos from Rams' wife Ingeborg, Andreas Kugel, Tim Rautert, Sebastian Struch, Sabine Schirdewahn, Marlene Schnelle-Schneyder, and Abisag Tüllmann, along with examples from his over-350-product output for Braun and later the furniture maker Vitsœ.
As Rams himself was quoted saying: "What does it mean to look ahead? First and last, it is a question of looking to the past. For me, looking to the future has always been part of the design process and the attitude we had towards the products created at Braun and Vitsœ, which were constantly evolving. It is not about the continuation of a particular product style but about an approach and an attitude, a way of thinking about the future of things. Designers should always aim to change the world for the better, even just a little, because the world won't get better by itself. Products themselves no longer occupy a central role, and design brings about new behavioural structures. The precarious conditions of the environment and the climate, combined with the fragility of the global economy, require a new attitude towards things. I would like to see designers who can learn from the past and understand the present. This is how we can design the future.”
Dieter Rams. A Look Back And Ahead is open to the public now and will remain on view until June 11th.
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