Braun: Timeless Industrial Design
Braun is a premium German brand for electrical appliances. From 1984 until 2005, Braun was a wholly owned subsidiary of The Gillette Company, which had purchased a controlling interest in the company in 1967. Braun is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Procter & Gamble, which acquired Gillette in 2005. Regardless of the ownership, Braun stands out for their excellence in engineering and innovation.
Braun created its first design department in 1956, headed by Dr. Fritz Eichler, who instituted a collaboration with the Ulm School of Design to develop a new product line. The company introduced its famous SK4 record player, designed by a youthful Dieter Rams. Rams soon became the most influential designer at Braun, and was a key figure in the German design renaissance of the late 1950s and 1960s. Eventually he became the head of Braun’s design staff and retired in 1995.
Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder and former CEO, and Jony Ive, the company’s Senior Vice President of Industrial Design, famously admired the work of Dieter Rams. Recently there has been a huge buzz, about the innovative products from Apple. Many critics claim that Apple shamelessly uses this sort of admiration in Apple’s own products. I think there is a line between inspiration and stealing, but where? Check out the products side by side to see what we mean.
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Would you call these examples a “rip-off” performed by Apple? Now we would like to shift gears and showcase some stunning timeless industrial design by Braun. Seeing where the most valuable company in the world gets it’s inspiration from, means that designers should definitely take notes. If you look at Rams’ principles of design, it’s pretty clear that Ive follows this man’s work to a tee. And with damn good reason.
Rams’ ten principles of “good design”
Is innovative – The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.
Makes a product useful – A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.
Is aesthetic – The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.
Makes a product understandable – It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.
Is unobtrusive – Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.
Is honest – It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
Is long-lasting – It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.
Is thorough down to the last detail – Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.
Is environmentally friendly – Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.
Is as little design as possible – Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.
Braun PCV 4
Braun HL-70 desk fan
Braun SM 31 sixtant
Braun AB 21/s
Braun ET 22 control
Braun 8grad TV Project
Braun LE1 Electrostat flat speaker
Braun CSV300 Hifi Amplifier & Braun PS500 HiFi Stereo Turntable
Braun Super II Rangefinder
Braun PK-G 5
Nizo S8 L
Braun TG 60
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