A documentary is being made about the “greatest designer alive”, Dieter Rams

Gary Hustwit has launched a crowdfunded campaign to help him finish his film and preserve Rams’ extensive design archive.

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American director Gary Hustwit is in the process of filming the world’s first feature documentary about Dieter Rams.

Hustwit – who is known for previous design-focused films such as Helvetica and Urbanized – has been granted unprecedented access to the German designer, who is known to be a very private person.

“He generally wouldn’t tolerate a film crew moving into his house for a week,” says Hustwit, “but I convinced him to do the film. The idea of passing his knowledge and viewpoint to the next generation of designers through a medium that could potentially reach millions of people appealed to him.”

Oral-B toothbrush and Braun radio design

The documentary, titled Rams, will include conversations with the now 84-year-old designer about the processes behind some of his most famous designs, which range from the Braun RT 20 table top radio to the Oral-B toothbrush.

A Kickstarter campaign has been launched to raise £135,000 to fund the film, as well as preserve, catalogue and digitise documents and models spanning Rams’ 50-year career – most of which have never been seen by the public before.

“Changed the way our world looks”

“I think it’s critical that we preserve these materials and document as many living designers as possible, it’s one of the reasons I started making these films. These are people who have changed the way we live, and changed the way our world looks,” says Hustwit.

“I’m 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.”

As well as focusing on Rams’ work, Hustwit wants the film to reveal more about the designer himself, through conversations with him and the people who know him best.

Sensitivity and sheer bloody-mindedness

“We hope to dig deeper into Rams’ untold story – to try and understand a man of contradictions by design,” says Hutswit. “I want the film get past the legend of Dieter. I want it to get into his philosophy, process, inspirations, and even his regrets.”

So far the director says he has seen two sides to Rams’ character – sensitivity combined with sheer bloody-mindedness. “It’s that combination that makes him so interesting,” says Hustwit.

“He can be very intense; you can see how he was able to run a design department at Braun for those decades. But at the same time, he’s got that sense of humour.”

Read more about the documentary feature and donate to the Kickstarter campaign here.

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