The world of design documentaries cracked right open with the 2007 release of Helvetica, celebrated director Gary Hustwit’s filmic ode to the typeface designed by Italian trailblazer Massimo Vignelli. Hustwit followed up the success of Helvetica with Objectified (in 2009, on industrial design) and Urbanized (in 2011, on cities). Each, like Helvetica before them, examined a segment of the design world previously unexplored on film.
Now comes news that Hustwit will turn his lens on the prolific—and still very much active—84-year-old German designer Dieter Rams, whose work for consumer products company Braun—and, later, for Vitsoe—included the creation of gorgeously simple clocks, radios, calculators, electric shavers, and much, much more. Rams will be the first ever feature documentary on the designer.
In an interview with Curbed, Hustwit explained that while there are tomes aplenty on Rams, film is a democratizing medium. This idea was central in convincing the designer, who is media averse, Hustwit explained. "One of my points was that a film is...going to reach a different audience than a dense book would," says Hustwit.
So, why Rams? For one, the designer has, in undeniable ways, shaped the look and feel of the world around us. "The way consumer products look now is in huge part because of the work that Rams did," says Hustwit. "People expect not just good design but that [this is just] what things look like." Companies like Apple and Muji, for example, known for their clean-lined, minimalist products, have brought the Rams aesthetic to the masses.
Rams is also simply an engaging character. He decries the materialism of modern life and is self-critical about his role in it as a product mastermind. Rams says that if he could do it again, he wouldn’t be a designer, Hustwit told Curbed. Sounds like intriguing film fodder to us.
And, in an effort to preserve Rams’s legacy, the project—for which Hustwit has launched a Kickstarter campaign—will also fund work to conserve Rams’s archive of drawings, photographs, and more. A $15 campaign pledge will get you a digital download of the film when it’s available and—on the other end of the spectrum—a $5,000 pledge will get you a private screening. Check out the other pledge tiers and read more on the campaign page.
- RAMS: The First Feature Documentary About Dieter Rams [Kickstarter]
- Gary Hustwit [Gary Hustwit]
- All Film and Television coverage [Curbed]