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Vitsœ's 'The Strong collection' Gives an Intimate Glance Into the World of Braun Product Design 

Tucked away in Soho was one of our favorite exhibits on display during NYCxDesign: The Strong collection. On display at Vitsœ's NYC location, the exhibit featured around 75 items from Tom Strong's 250+ item collection of Dieter Rams-designed Braun products. Strong's diverse collection ranged from tabletop cigarette lighters to electric mixers, most of which were actually used by the collector himself. The pairing of well-loved objects and hilarious quotes from the opinionated Strong created a truly personal exhibit, a breath of fresh air from those featuring objects for sale. Needless to say, we felt like kids in a 1960s candy shop. 

Braun packaging 
Remote control for the Atelier combination hifi system, Peter Hartwein, Dieter Rams, 1982-84. This example was branded ADS as they distributed in North America
Phase 2 clock, Dietrich Lubs, 1972
SK4 radio phono combination Claritone model, produced for Canadian market, Hans Gugelot, Dieter Rams, Herbert Lindinger, 1956

Strong started out collecting stamps at a young age, but transitioned to collecting Braun objects during his time in the US Army. The first item he acquired was a T1000 radio, and the collection kept growing as Strong gained an appreciation for the day-to-day usability and durability of Rams' designs.

BM 12 shaver, Florian Seiffert, 1972. Look at that cute brush on the side!
M 140 hand mixer, Reinhold Weiss, 1968
Strong noted to Vitsœ that he developed an obsession with grids in design school that carried over to his love of Braun packaging.
(left to right) KTC/KC combination kitchen clock, Dietrich Lubs 1988; MPZ 1 juicer, Robert Oberheim, Reinhold Weiss, 1965

Through Strong's quotes littered throughout the exhibit, it became clear the collector appreciates Rams' attention to small design details. At one point, he calls out how Rams' kitchen appliances come apart in the right places for easy cleaning and how his controls '"told you quietly 'lift me' or 'push me'". 

BP 1000 hair dryer, Robert Oberheim, 1983
(left to right) ET 66 calculator Dieter Rams, Dietrich Lubs, 1987; SM 31 electric razor Gerd Alfred Muller, Hans Gugelot, 1962 (2 razors on the right)

T 52 radio, Dieter Rams, 1961
TG 1000 reel to reel tape recorder, Dieter Rams, 1970
Audio 400 hifi system, Dieter Rams, 1973
F 900 flash, Robert Oberheim, 1974

During his time at Braun, Rams found a way to clearly communicate the use of each product to the everyday consumer while keeping them beautiful enough to display in the home. Strong reinforced Rams' desire to make good design accessible to all by donating his collection to Vitsœ, who will soon move the entire collection to England where it will be permanently on display in Vitsœ's new building in Royal Leamington Spa.

Audio 2 hifi, Dieter Rams, 1964
Nizo S40 & S56, Robert Oberheim, 1968
HLD 4 hair dryer, Dieter Rams, 1970
HL 70 desk fan, Reinhold Weiss, Jurgen Greubel, 1971.  The fan rests on the plastic stand when not in use.
(left to right) Domino ashtray set, Dieter Rams, 1976; Domino lighter, Dieter Rams, 1976. If you're going to smoke cigs, do it in style.

The Strong collection exhibit closes today, but the full collection will be on display later this year in England. Learn more about Strong's story and his incredible collection here.

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Finally, the Dieter Rams Documentary We've Been Waiting For

Motivated to pass down what he's learned to the future generation of designers, Dieter Rams granted filmmaker Gary Hustwit unprecedented access to him and his archives for two weeks. Hustwit's research will culminate with Rams—the first documentary about the designer who, over the course of his influential career, has designed over 500 products, many of which you've probably owned.

Having already released a much-loved documentary design trilogy with Helvetica, Objectified and Urbanized, Hustwit is experienced in creating engrossing narratives that uncover design culture. This time around, Hustwit says: "I'm also interested in exploring the role that manufactured objects play in our lives, and by extension the relationship we have with the people who design them."

A select few of Dieter Rams's designs featured in the Kickstarter campaign

"We hope to dig deeper into Rams's untold story—to try and understand a man of contradictions by design," Hustwit says. Through candid conversations between Hustwit and Rams, the documentary will shed light on his philosophy, process, inspirations, and even his regrets.

"If I had something to do in this world again, I would not want to be a designer. Because I believe, in the future, it will be less important to have many things and more important to exercise care about where and how we live."
Photograph by Abisag Tüllmann

The documentary could not be more timely. In many ways, the ideas that form Rams's design philosophy—developed fifty years ago—resonate now more than ever before, especially when you factor in our current tensions over climate change. "His design philosophy is actually about more than just design—it's about how you live. It's about getting rid of excess and visual clutter and just living with what you need," says Hustwit. It's no surprise then, that Rams's Ten Principles of Good Design remain at the center of today's industrial design education and are frequently cited by some of our most admired designers. In an interview with Hustwit for his 2009 documentary Objectified, Rams revealed:

"I didn't intend these 10 points to be set in stone forever. They were actually meant to mutate with time and to change. But apparently things have not changed greatly in the past 50 years."
Dieter Rams at work at Braun, circa 1970s. Photo by Abisag Tu¨llmann.

When asked how design has changed, if at all, in the past half century, Rams noted that design today has become an inhumane industry marketed as a "lifestyle asset."

"I'm bothered by the arbitrariness and the thoughtlessness with which many things are produced and brought to the market. There are so many unnecessary things we produce, not only in the sector of consumer goods, but also in architecture, in advertising. We have too many unnecessary things everywhere. And I would even go as far as to describe this as inhumane. That is the situation today. But actually, it has always been a problem."
Dieter at Vitsoe London working on a re-design of his 601 chair
Dieter Rams and Mark Adams of Vitsœ , London 2015. Photograph by Gary Hustwit.

It's not just the ideas that continue to strike a chord. The physical products Rams has developed are finding new audiences as he refines his work to be reissued by Vitsœ. Rams's work is also reported to be the inspiration for current Apple products. Jonathan Ive, Chief Design Officer, for Apple has said that "Rams's ability to bring form to a product so that it clearly, concisely and immediately communicates its meaning is remarkable… He remains utterly alone in producing a body of work so consistently beautiful, so right and so accessible."

Last week, Hustwit launched a Kickstarter campaign which he hopes will "dig deeper into Dieter's untold story—to try and understand a man of contradictions by design." The money raised will go towards finishing the shooting and producing the film, as well as covering archival costs. At press time, the campaign has already exceeded half of its goal: $200,000. The film is expected to debut sometime in 2017.

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We believe that a truly good product is inherently beautiful and useful. This kind of beauty does not happen by accident though! At Formost we do not only find good products for you but we test them and tell the stories of the people behind these products. This way you experience a story while receiving something which shall last for generations and accumulate some nice stories itself.

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