Dieter Rams: Ethics and Modern Philosophy. What Legacy Today?


  • Klaus Klemp Rhein Main University of Applied Science




Modern Movement, Modern architecture, Modern housing


German industrial designer Dieter Rams has turned eighty this year. His attitude towards product and industrial design, which he has been developing since the 1950s, once again arouses keen interest today. On the occasion of his birthday, a major German daily news paper saw in him the representative of a "present–day Modernism that is not as megalomanic as that of the 20s, 30s and 50s" and also not "the adolescent unleashing that we erroneously call Postmodernism." A revision of Postmodernism or, more correctly, a new "revision of Modernism", certainly seems to have come to stay. Konstantin Grcic, undoubtedly the most prominent German designer active today, wrote in the same newspaper one day before: "the product lines that Rams developed for the Braun and Vitsoe corporations have founded our notion of representational form and function. The once - from the pre–Grcic generation - so-called cool technocrat Dieter Rams, has now been rediscovered by virtue of his "almost romantic look at the manufacture of products.""

How to Cite

Klemp, K. (2012). Dieter Rams: Ethics and Modern Philosophy. What Legacy Today?. Docomomo Journal, (46), 68–75.




Author Biography

Klaus Klemp, Rhein Main University of Applied Science

Born in 1954 in Dortmund, Germany, Professor Klemp studied Design/Visual Communication in Dortmund and Munster, Art History and Science of History in Marburg. Between 1988 and 2006 he was the Head of the Cultural Department (Amt für Wissenschaft und Kunst) of the City of Frankfurt am Main and director of the Karmeliter Monastary and Leinwandhaus municipal galleries. Between 1995 and 2005 he was a board member of the German Design Council and since 1998 he has been Research Associate and lecturer for Design History and Theory and Public Design in Nuremberg, Wiesbaden and Würzburg. In 2008 he was appointed Honorary Professor at the Rhein Main University of Applied Science in Wiesbaden. Since 2006 he has been Head of Exhibitions at the Museum of Applied Art Frankfurt and, since 2010, a board member of the Dieter und Ingeborg Rams Foundation. He is also the author of numerous publications in the field of Architecture, Design and Fine Arts. Homepage at University of Applied Sciences:


Marcus, George H., Functionalist Design. An Ongoing History, München / New York, 1998.

Rams, Dieter, Weniger, aber besser—Les but better, Hamburg, edition 3, 2004.

Klemp, Klaus, Pure Design. Deutschland und benachbarte Länder in der ersten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts / In the first half of the twentieth century in and around Germany, (Germ. / Engl.) Amsterdam / Berlin / Stuttgart, 2011.

Lovell, Sophie, Dieter Rams. As Little Design as Possible, London, 2011.

Eisele, Petra; Bürdek, Bernhard E., ed., Design, Anfang des 21. Jh. Ludwigsburg, 2011.

Ueki–Poulet, Keiko; Kemp Klaus, ed., Less and More. The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams, Berlin, edition 3, 2012.