In 1974 the Central School of Art and Design’s Industrial Design Engineering faculty was nicknamed ‘The Department of Rounded Corners’.
The other day, I had an ultra-experience: lunch with my God. The deity in question was my lifelong hero, our ‘Lord of Teutonic rationalism’, Dieter Rams.
I grew up in a ‘design-aware’ home and my hand-me-downs included a Braun gramophone and Braun Super-8 movie camera, both designed by Rams and portraying an almost typographic-grid approach to product design, clearly influenced by golden section thinking. This started with anodised aluminium (let there be light) and ended in matt black (apocalyptic end of the road).
So begs the question: where did Rams get his inspiration to use matt black? It seems to have been a bit post-rational, to do with testing surface finishes in tooling by using scrap plastic coloured with carbon black.
Now I prefer a soft-tech approach, based on naturally occurring forms; typically looking at an egg as the ultimate in the minimal natural form. Worn pebbles are also good.
Apple Computer tried ‘naturalism’ with the original iBook, but it seems to have realised that Rams was right. Meanwhile, I caress my lovely 12-inch PowerBook – rather cooler than that spangle-coloured bog seat, which I did love at the time.