Flexing Timeless Creative Muscle: Braun's Design

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Product Developments

In 1921, mechanical engineer Max Braun founded his German consumer electronics manufacturing business, Braun GmbH, in the town of Kronberg im Taunus near Frankfurt am Main. Since then, Braun has delivered numerous examples of elegant product design. One of Braun’s most notable periods of innovation concerns its dry shavers.

As the story goes, during World War II, Max Braun invented the S 50, (image below) composed of a small universal motor powering an oscillating block of sharp, round blades and covered with a perforated metal plate. This design featuring an oscillating cutter block with a very thin and stable steel-foil mounted above it is a characteristic of Braun’s shavers today.

Another illustrious period flourished under the vision of industrial designer Dieter Rams, Braun’s director of design. From his hiring in 1956 to his retirement in 1995, Rams nurtured and led Braun’s demonstrated integration of design, business and technology. This reflects Rams’ principles, better known as his Ten Commandments of Good Design:

Good design is innovative.
Good design makes a product useful.
Good design is aesthetic.
Good design helps us to understand a product.
Good design is unobtrusive.
Good design is honest.
Good design is durable.
Good design is consequent to the last detail.
Good design is concerned with the environment.
Good design is as little design as possible.
Back to purity, back to simplicity.

This constitution has been translated into an iconic line of products whose composition testifies to the lasting quality of simplicity:

Braun products exude a sensibility that has influenced many designers and organizations, including Apple. This sensibility is rooted in simplicity, as Rams succinctly expressed in an interview for Icon magazine, Products have to be designed in a way that they are comprehensible. Yet, striving for the simplicity of objects came with a sense of making business and the commercial desire to do good work. Rams further shared that At Braun they were always willing to take a risknobody could tell you if a product would become successful. We as designers cannot work in a vacuum. The entrepreneur has to want it; the people at the top of the company have to want it.

Ultimately, the relationship of Braun and Rams proved one of the designer’s cumulative statementsLess, but better. Interior Design magazine’s Larry Weinberg clarifies:

His mantra of Ëœless, but better’ was not a devaluation of the role of design, but rather a reassessment. ¦the design process at Braun was intensive and meticulous, concerned with proportions to the last millimeter, and with details to the last screw fastener.

Attentions to details, of all types, is appreciated.

Images credit: Flickr group dieter rams

Nate Burgos

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