Every designer alive has heard of Dieter Rams’s 10 Principles of Design–the legendary designer’s quick-reference rules for making products, developed in his early days at Braun. But never has the list been presented with such a strong visual thesis as it is in the documentary Rams, by Gary Hustwit. The documentary was released in select theaters in 2018 (read my story on it here) but Hustwit recently shared this intriguing new clip online. It’s a fascinating, four-minute thesis about how Rams articulated his design philosophy through consumer products.
In the documentary, the 10 Principles of Design sequence feels quite different than what comes before or after. While Hustwit films Rams himself with a locked-down tripod, creating crisp, impeccably balanced frames, the list breaks out of this stoicism, embracing multi-panel animations and a bit of whimsy.
“I wanted this section to feel different than the rest of the film to try to put a new spin on his list,” says Hustwit.
Rosie Garschina, who was creative director at branding and design firm Trollbäck+Company, led the production of this segment. Her goal was to figure out how to illustrate the commandments of Rams through the objects he designed. Over the course of several months, Garschina’s team storyboarded and concepted ideas, eventually pairing rules like “Good design makes a product understandable” with a butt coming in from off-screen and plopping down on top of Rams’s 740 stool.