Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Not Simply Simple

Hopefully you'll have seen Less but Better, the small in quantity but high in quality exhibition of the work of German industrial designer Dieter Rams in Exchange, Temple Bar before it closes tomorrow. Although exhibitions of Rams' work often take up much larger museum spaces, there's something quite apt about showing his work in a space the size of a small living room. The designs by Rams and his team for Braun (as well as for furniture manufacturer Vitsoe) did an impressive job of making industrial objects attractive and homely, and as a result, much of Rams' output has played an important role in daily life, as beautiful tools for living.

Coinciding with the exhibition, curated by the guys behind Curate and Design, was a talk with Professor Klaus Klemp at NCAD. Klemp curated of a major touring exhibition of Rams' work entitled Less and More, a phrase he uses to express the fact that what Rams does when he designs is not merely to reduce, to strip back or to minimalise; Rams' work is deeply considered and cleverly planned to contain and communicate exactly what it needs to. As Klemp says, Dieter Rams' designs are "not simply simple", they strike a beautiful balance between function and form, one that doesn't necessarily come easily. Pictured below are two products I'm particularly fond of: the SK 2 radio whose dial appears to sit right into the speaker, and the LE 1 loudspeaker (no prize for guessing what contemporary product mimics its form). I think they, along with many of Rams' other designs, display less complication and more beauty than most other objects manufactured in a long time...